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PROKOFIEV Romeo and Juliet

Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo etc

Royal Ballet Sinfonia Conductor: Boris Gruzin
Staging: Monica Mason
Sets/costumes designs: Nicholas Georgiadis
Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan

Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, November 2007

Decca DVD 0743337

This is an impressive filming of the 2007 revival of a famous production. It raises again all the questions traversed in our assessment of Dance on DVD nearly a decade ago http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd/rambert_and_danceon_dvd.htm#dvd.

Opinions will long be debated about the many productions of Romeo & Juliet in manifold media. DVD has now become so ubiquitous (and ballet and dance so popular) that it is questionable whether one still needs concert performances and CDs of Prokofiev's ballet suites? Yet consulting Amazon, there are some 200 Romeo & Julie CDs on offer !

We aren't regularly into the niceties of multiple comparative reviews in Musical Pointers, and the great ballet scores (Prokofiev's and Tchaikovsky's) are now so very well known. Were they ever envisaged as concert staples? This R&J, under Gruzin, is sonorous and seems fine; the admired MacMillan version is lovingly revived here in elaborate staging which is to us, compelling. It builds up to a collosal tension for the fights which lead to the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt. Juliet's resistance to the family pressure to marry Paris is poignant and the misfiring of Friar Laurence's risky strategy leads into danced depictions of the two inevitable deaths; Roja's total passivity in the final duet is greatly moving as well as being something of a technical tour de force for Acosta, as she cannot help her partner at all.

Warmly recommended, including to those readers who aren't "into dance" yet (one of our writers always waits (and hopes) that ballet dancers will sing...). Of course, for comparison you can always listen to a DVD with the sound off...

Peter Grahame Woolf