Crazy young love

Crazy young love

Nacho Duato’s new staging of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ focuses on the lovers’ youth and the Mediterranean setting.

Published: December 12, 2012 (Issue # 1739)


Star husband-and-wife duo Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev will dance the lead roles on the first night.

The Mikhailovsky Theater will unveil the first ballet premiere of the season this week with choreographer Nacho Duato’s new production of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which will be shown on Dec. 13, 14, 15 and 16. Balletomanes are already heatedly arguing over the choreographer’s style, the theater has been closed for 10 days for rehearsals, and needless to say, tickets are sold out.

It will be the second full-length production that Duato has staged for the Mikhailovsky Theater, following last year’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” Widely known as the creator of plotless one-act ballets, the Spanish choreographer explained his decision to reinvent Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy.

“Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is, in my opinion, the most beautiful score ever created for the ballet stage,” he said via the theater’s press service. “I have already worked on this music before — in Spain in the late 1990s — but I am creating a new version now for the Mikhailovsky Theater.”

Duato first worked with Prokofiev’s score in 1995, staging “Romeo and Juliet” for the Compania Nacional de Danza. The two productions have some dramatic differences, however: If 20 people were involved in the previous production, more than 60 dancers are featured in the new show.

“And, of course, I am writing new choreography for the main characters, because there will be wonderful dancers with phenomenal capabilities. I have put in some pas de deux especially for Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev,” added Duato.

Starring as Juliet will be Natalia Osipova, Olesya Novikova and Valeria Zapasnikova, while the part of Romeo will be danced by Ivan Vasiliev, Leonid Sarafanov and Ivan Saitzev. International husband-and-wife star dancers Osipova and Vasiliev, who joined the Mikhailovsky from Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Theater, will dance the opening night.

Support will come from Andrei Yakhnyuk as Mercutio and Andrei Kasyanenko as Tybalt.

Osipova has previously performed in “Romeo and Juliet” in London and New York in productions choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton, respectively, but it will be her Russian debut as Juliet.


Costumes sketches for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ designed by Angelina Atlagic.

“I think that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is one of the most important shows this season, if not the most important,” Osipova said via the theater’s press service. “It is a large-scale, enthralling work, and when performing it I realize that this is the artistic freedom I have always dreamed of, this is the interesting role I have yearned for. Working with Nacho Duato is like learning a new, complex and beautiful language. He has such a fine-tuned perception of the music — picking up on this yourself gives you an incredible sense of satisfaction,” she added.

Kasyanenko said of his character Tybalt: “My character is one of the most vivid in the whole show. I also danced the part of Tybalt in Oleg Vinogradov’s production [at the Mikhailovsky], but this new version simply can’t be compared to the previous one. The focus this time is definitely on different elements.”

Duato told Iskusstvo TV that he sees Juliet as “very young and quite crazy.”

“To run away that night, and to sleep with a guy on the first night in those times and get a poison, you know — that’s a mad woman. I wanted something like that. Very young, innocent, not knowing what to do, very irresponsible — and the same with Romeo.”

Duato does not seek to be abstract in his new version.

“Shakespeare sets the action in Verona, you must be able to sense the Mediterranean atmosphere of sunlight, proximity to the sea, and the smells of orange and jasmine; it’s this completely special, exciting blend,” he said.

“The drama of the events spills out onto the streets and squares of the Italian city, and to me it is important to combine the legendary story of the two lovers and the aura in which it unfolds,” he added.

The atmosphere will be partially created by costumes designed by Angelina Atlagic, who last year in Duato’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty” demonstated her ability to create exceptionally beautiful and detailed costumes, stylized for the epoch yet comfortable and light to dance in. For “Romeo and Juliet,” she has created Renaissance-inspired looks.

This will be the fourth version of “Romeo and Juliet” staged for the Mikhailovsky. Nikolai Boyarchikov created a new production in 1988 and Oleg Vinogradov premiered two productions here in 1976 and 2008. The latter received good reviews, but disappeared from the repertoire quite quickly nevertheless.

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