For one night only against the backdrop of Margitsziget the elegant ballet of “Romeo and Juliet” will be unveiled by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, based on Shakespeare’s enduringly romantic and heartbreaking love story.
Every ballet company across the world has this production as part of its standard repertoire with its wonderfully dramatic and beautifully sad orchestral score of Prokofiev. It is at once pain and passion fused, both inseparable and universal emotions.
This version is directed and choreographed by Jean-Christophe Maillot, who has headed Monte Carlo’s prestigious ballet company since 1993 and produced works such as “Cendrillon” and “Faust” as well as “Romeo and Juliet”.
The company is in great demand worldwide and is highly renowned for its excellence. Maillot’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” premièred 20 years ago and remains just as poignant, elegant and meaningful today. He chose to present the lovers’ tragedy like a cinematic story, and instead of focusing on the Montagues versus the Capulets he highlights the troubles of youth and the pain and passion of first love.
Love is an emotion that drives many to insanity by its nature, and the burning angst of first teenage love is perhaps the most painful. The pain never eases with age despite experience, although it becomes more manageable.
No other Shakespeare play is as universal as “Romeo and Juliet”, particularly transformed into the medium of dance. When stories or operas are translated into a ballet, they risk losing a lot of their lyrical meaning; there is always the difficulty of expressing in dance something that has been lifted from words.
It can come across to the audience as vague and confusing, a tangled web of characters. But the strength of plot-driven ballets such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Manon Lescaut” and “Carmen” allows the audience to engage with the characters. “Swan Lake” may form the backbone of a dance company’s repertoire, but at times it seems little more than just a hollow showcase for the dancers’ skills. Yes, it shows the ultimate grace and loveliness of a ballet but is too much of a fairytale.
Everyone can identify with love. It could be the bitterness of rejection or raging jealousy that burns like an inhalation of gasoline. Or the melting softness, the dizzying highs of sublime love, that sweet taste of wonder. The dancers in “Romeo and Juliet” sketch beautiful shapes across the stage, fully three-dimensional living and breathing characters; the delicate Juliet and the passionate Romeo along with an ensemble of strong supporting roles.
This is a love story that can truly be expressed in dance, as nothing can be lost in translation. When there are no words left to say, the beauty of the ballet speaks for itself. It speaks of bitter rivalry, divided loyalties, forbidden love, young passion and heartbreaking tragedy. Yes, it says that and more.
The orchestral score of Prokofiev is achingly fitting for the tragedy that unfolds on the stage, from the gentle tenderness of notes like a lover’s caress or the darker dramatic music rising into great sweeping waves of pain.
“For never was there a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”
(Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 3,
Romeo and Juliet
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Szabad Téri Színpad
Friday August 5, 8pm
Festival tickets and information:
Open Air ticket office:
Nagymező utca 68, District VI