Romeo and Juliet Ballet
This article is about Sergei Prokofiev’s score. For John Cranko’s ballet, see Romeo and Juliet (Cranko). For Sean Lavery’s setting of the balcony scene, see Romeo and Juliet (Lavery). For Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet, see Romeo and Juliet (MacMillan). For Peter Martins’ ballet, see Romeo + Juliet (ballet).
Romeo and Julie (Russian: Ромео и Джульетта) is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It is one of the most enduringly popular ballets. Music from the ballet was extracted by Prokofiev as three suites for orchestra and as a piano work.
Based on a synopsis created by Adrian Piotrovsky (who first suggested the subject to Prokofiev) and Sergey Radlov, the ballet in its original form was completed by Prokofiev in September 1935, on commission by the Kirov Ballet, since when he first presented the music to the Bolshoi Ballet that year, they claimed it was “undanceable”. The original version had a “happy” ending, but was never publicly mounted, partly due to increased fear and caution in the musical and theatrical community in the aftermath of the two notorious Pravda editorials criticising Shostakovich and other “degenerate modernists” including Piotrovsky. Suites of the ballet music were heard in Moscow and the United States, but the full ballet premiered in the Mahen Theatre, Brno (then in Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic), on 30 December 1938. It is better known today from the significantly revised version that was first presented at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad on 11 January 1940, with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky and with Galina Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeyev in the lead roles.