Yes, spoilers, because Stuttgart is just so far away. Looking at the cast, I was deeply appreciative of the fact that Stuttgart Ballet flew out its names to dance here, and so many (all?) of their company, who filled the stage with colour and theatre.
The above is partly meant to avoid bombing people with an expletive right at the start.
“They f*** you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.” – Philip Larkin, “This be the Verse”
This is essentially what you get out of the crypt scene (and hence it is the entire crux of the ballet), when Paris kneels sobbing and later lies dead on the ground, while Juliet lies in a false-death slumber, and Romeo enters to mourn her. (Yes, Paris appeared rather uppity and arrogant and he seemed to believe he was entitled to the hand of Juliet. But unlike Tybalt, he did not appear to treat her as property. He was just a typical man of the Capulet empire, brought up to believe he should embody their values, and that he would rightfully marry whoever seemed correctly Capulet, and have little Capulet children and do right by them, et cetera. Stiff upper lip, and et cetera. We will come to that later.)
A man of emotion, John Cranko appears to be, and his works therefore are filled to the hilt with dramatic action — and dramatic dancing, as seen in Onegin, where he was utterly inspired and brewed a long potent potion for each pas de deux; where the balls were solid works fit for royalty.
This is a Shakespearean work and it has more theatre to it; “pantomime”, said a friend, slightly disappointed, “was that acrobatics?” (Interestingly, Rosa Park mentioned once that John Cranko brings in an “eclectic range of dance forms” into his works, including acrobatics.)
What this R&J does, as a result of the theatre-work (I do not mean to say theatrics), is to be extremely thorough in its depiction of the Montagues and Capulets, and of life in Verona. From the first act right through to the funeral scene, you know immediately that there is a depth of history backing up the story – a long and deep well of understanding of how the city is built, and how it functions.
a) There is actual fighting between the Lords Montague and Capulet, with heavy broadswords; there is an actual dead body on either side (though, due to the light from the orchestral pit, you can see the dead Montague peel himself off the table when the scene changes). Sword-fighting, fruit flying; to our left, the Montagues in scarlet, and to our right, the Capulets in blue. Now we understand why, early in the opening, there was a spat between a Montague gypsy girl in red and a short-haired Capulet lady in blue skirts.
b) How the fighting stops: we have the riot police, folk in black armour. Then a tall, imposing man in sober black enters. Is he the lord of the city? No, he’s just the chap at the front of a procession who announces the Duke of Verona’s presence! More armoured people enter, carrying in the frail Duke of Verona on his chair. Louis Steins is an excellent actor. He was Mercutio on another night – I wonder what that was like. Here, he plays both an exceedingly frail Duke leaning heavily on his stick, and the very young and inexperienced Friar Laurence, who comes up with a hare-brained scheme.
c) The funeral scene, where the stage is all black and you only see, very slowly, candles in procession – singles, clusters, held by figures entirely in black.
I don’t count the Montague festival in this because it’s a bit — Bottom the Weaver-ish — Midsummer Night’s. Meaning that you can also sit down and imagine it from the Midsummer Night’s Dream text or a Globe Theatre version. It’s the heavy stuff that carries the weight; that makes you feel that the choreographer had, at the back of his mind, a long, haunting, bloodstained history.
Back to being thorough. When the Capulets throw a ball, everyone meets outside in their scarlet wrappers. The ladies lean backwards and stretch out their arms, hands pinching up their skirts. I suppose this is to show they are very proper and regal. They count their numbers and pair up before they go in. We are introduced to Paris when the ladies surround him the moment he appears, i.e. he is hot property. He leads everyone in. This was a long and slightly cryptic scene to me as the backdrop was all grey and dim (the outside of the Capulet mansion – must all line up before entering, very properly) – but it helped explain the subsequent scene, where Juliet runs out during the ball (yes, we’re not being chronological here) to meet her Romeo and we see them dancing outside…
I’m going to skip talking about Romeo and Juliet until later, and continue with the Capulets. (Chronology? What is that?) R&J dance sensuously outside the hall when she escapes from the rigours of her Capulet duties. If you look past the couple and through the doors of the dance hall, you can see the Capulets dancing very properly–rows upon rows. You can compare R&J with Paris’ little dance with Juliet: when she extends her leg forward parallel to the ground (no higher!), he extends his in an arabesque. So genteel. So aristocratic. So Pleasantville in black-and-white. But the dancing between R&J is all lifts and splits over arms, and endless giggling, and high arabesques kicked up. The audience is engaged because it gets 3 very different pas de deux (the first love, the balcony scene, and the angsty I-killed-your-brother one).
The R&J pas de deux is much more like the Montague dancing, the gypsy trio with their gentlemen. Rocio Aleman’s spirited vivacious gypsy was quite eye-catching, and a friend liked Morita Ami’s dancing (which was very neat and clear).
Yes, anyway – that takes us to the Montagues, who are less stick-up-their-wherevers, and more footloose and fancy-free. They revel in revelry, and wear animal masks and have dancers dressed as clowns (carnival dancers in white face-paint, and colourful striped tights). Noan Alves is a fabulous lead carnival dancer. In one fascinating scene, he is upside down on his crown (literally, as he wears a crown) with his legs in splits, hands supporting his lower back, while dancers turn his legs round and about.
The Montagues are so relaxed about life that Lord and Lady Montague don’t reappear after the first scene. And even in that scene, they are more chill about shaking hands with the Capulets – or at least, the Capulets are more hoity-toity and show their evident disregard for the Capulets. The Montagues’ reaction to everything seems to be lol, whut – including their response to the presence of their enemies, until all turns sinister.
It is in the building of the story that we see how very 周到 (zhou dao, or thoughtful, Google translate says – usually meant for details, etc) and thorough John Cranko is about the story. John Cranko is a master story-teller in this respect. I really do mean 周到 (zhou dao) and not 细心 (xi xin, which Google says means careful), though those are often used together (细心周到). He does not just give you the where, why, how, but also the wherefore and wheretofore.
Why would Friar Laurence come up with such a bad idea as to bring out the 24-hour
youth serum poison for Juliet? Because he is a young and unworldly monk, a philosopher about life and death, who is not very in-touch with real life. We first see him on the grounds of his monastery (?), pondering a skull (death) in his left hand and a spray of flowers (life) in his right hand, then bringing them together and comparing them. He does not question, and he views his role as dispensing advice and providing safe harbour for young lovers (What is more pure than young love, etc). In a comical scene, he stops Romeo from dashing into the building after Juliet because he must first make the sign of the cross over Romeo and bless this rash youth. When Juliet runs to him for help and confesses to him (in a very gloriously unorthodox dance move where he stretches out his arms to form the arms of a cross and proceeds across the stage while she, lifted by wrapping her arms about one arm and .. kneeling on one of his bent thighs?… raises her clasped hands in prayer), it is not only she who has to bear a burden, but he too, as a man of the Word who must face his dilemma (which he gets over real fast) and offer her a (poisonous) solution, pun intended.
And you’re like – dude, you’re the problem here.
But is he? In the last Act, we see Juliet lying prone on her bed, and we think: if Romeo had not left her after sunrise, after confessing that he had killed her brother — if Romeo had not borne the guilt and then decided to run away, leaving her panicked and confused — ! Or, we remember her father refusing to listen when she begged him not to force her to marry Paris; we remember her mother (who, just yesterday, was almost driven mad by the death of her beloved Tybalt, to whom she clung protectively in Act 1 while a truce was being called; who, just yesterday, in a brilliant piece of staging, rent her clothes to reveal white mourning colours below, and climbed onto her firstborn’s stretcher to be borne away with him), now gloriously pleased that her daughter will remain the jewel of the crown, their collective pride and joy, by being married off, like another possession, to the Paris collection (minor pun intended).
We want to blame them (they do this, your parents)…
…and then we think of Tybalt and how he killed Mercutio and hence how Romeo lost his head (Romeo’s own fault) and killed Tybalt and with that same hand, destroyed their happiness; we see that the tipping point was when Tybalt entered the picture…
…or was it? Did not the feud begin a long time ago? It was nobody’s fault but that of two warring families’, that the entire next generation, a bunch of healthy, mostly-jolly youth, lie dead at the end of the story: Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Romeo, Juliet.
What a plague.
This is an entire play, and the masterful handiwork of the choreographer and director and person who staged it (stage-master??) ensures that you see it fleshed out before you, this tragedy in slow motion that you cannot stop. It is the tragedy that you are invited to witness, and to understand – a tragedy that touches not only the leading couple, but also everyone else around them.
Now we get to talk about the characters. Romeo is the magnificent Jason Reilly, who (with his Juliet) remains sober through curtain call until he gives his bouquet to his Juliet. Never a stutter or a whimper: he is Romeo the reckless, feckless, amorous Lothario throwing pebbles at a Capulet lady’s window until he receives her fan, which wins him entry to the ball; the man who flirts with his gypsy lady friends and the Capulet ladies, chatting one up almost all through the first half of Juliet’s polite pas de deux with Paris and nearly changing the plot of the story, until he is unlucky enough to look up. Yet he is also Romeo, the man who finds himself falling in love with the lovely Juliet, a girl unlike the rest of the rabble-rousing Montagues and stiff-backed Capulets he knows — a girl who makes him question his own ways and wonder, in the middle of the balcony scene (a subversion of the Prince in Swan Lake wondering if this is really Odette), if he is really the right man for her. Should he be doing this, he who is not worthy of this innocent light of his life, et cetera?
Romeo, the love struck and lovelorn, who manages to swear off hanging too close to his female friends, who chooses to sit in a corner, nibbling his thumbnail and ignoring his friends. Romeo, in a great anguish and agony, wishing to cast off Juliet in all his guilt, while Juliet clings to him and they dance their final pas de deux together, where they suffer together over the horrible truth that could well tear them apart, yet can hardly bear to be separated. Yes, the story goes into that entire portion in detail through dance. Well, I expect that’s what is happening, because they are extremely distressed and he keeps trying to leave her.
Here’s some background on Jason Reilly, from the website: “Furthermore he has danced with internationally renowned female dancers like Alessandra Ferri, Evelyn Hart and Greta Hodgkinson. In the new production of A Streetcar named Desire (John Neumeier) in 2004 he danced the role of Stanley Kowalsky together with Alessandra Ferri. When Canadian star ballerina Evelyn Hart retired from her 30-year-long career and wished to dance the part of Juliet for one last time in April 2004, she asked Jason Reilly to be her Romeo. She also chose him as her dancing partner when she bid farewell to the stage in 2006.”
Kang Hyo-Jung is a most enchanting, charming, delightful Juliet. The booklet says that she was promoted to principal after her debut as Juliet, and you can see why. Delightfully, gorgeously expressive.
Juliet’s still a girl, isn’t she – she leaps onto her nursemaid’s back while kicking her legs back excitedly – and she can barely contain her excitement when her mother enters, concealing a gift behind her back – and she doesn’t quite curtsey well enough for her mother’s satisfaction, so her mother pushes her affectionate hug aside and makes her repeat the curtsey –which encapsulates the Capulet spirit (stick up the).
But oh, she’s also a lady, and she will be the lady of the house, and she knows it. When Juliet’s nursemaid reaches for the dress to stop her from spoiling it by twirling its glorious shimmery golden cape about, she whips around as if to say: don’t touch it – don’t spoil it, and the nursemaid knows her place.
She is also the obedient daughter of the house, and hence she agrees to dance with Paris – it is so far away, this thing called marriage, and she will step into it as her right and duty. She knows very little about it, and so she will go with her parents’ desire. But they do love her, though they cannot bring themselves to say it (in the Capulet spirit) – her mother may lovingly regard her beautiful daughter and cup her hand about her face, but she will never express what she is thinking to Juliet, who asks her what she is thinking.
And it is her parents’ love that dictates that she must marry Paris, as that is the Right Thing to do.
You are taken by the hand through the cycle of Juliet’s life, and you can see why she behaves the way she does. Romeo is true love, an emotion that she has never been exposed to, or felt, in such high colour (and also true lust, more on that later) – and Paris, staid and proud, proper and aristocratic even in romance, is all that she now rejects, even if he is absolutely certain that he wants to stand by her forever and he ignores all the other ladies and he remains entirely true to her because he really doesn’t have much else to do here.
Kang Hyo-Jung is brilliant – we can see how Juliet’s innocent love and desire is warped to mad despair in the face of her unmoving, unmoved parents, and we are well-acquainted with how harsh real life is in Verona: she will have nowhere to go, for her husband has deserted her, and her parents will not listen, and now that she has tasted and lost true love, she cannot bear the thought of being tied to an illusion for the rest of her life (just watch how bored she gets dancing with Paris outside the dance hall – it’s hilarious – and she darts away from him as quickly as she can).
Juliet shrinks back from drinking the potion – and when she opens the bottle, you can almost see the cartoon-style skull floating out because she recoils so, from its odour. Yes, she rejects it not because it is a dreadful thing to pretend to be dead, but because it stinks. At last, after going through the 5 stages, she gets right back to denial (the part where you laugh and think it is fine) and then she drinks the potion and oh! you can see from how she claps her hands to her mouth and throat and from her wide, staring eyes, that it tastes like hell.
We can talk about the dances later. We have to talk about Mercutio, you see. We’ve not spoken of him – of how Adhonay Soares da Silva’s Mercutio won the hearts of the audience. Yes, there are the technical feats, a sequence of never ending pirouettes on an extended leg while occasionally posing with his chin on his fist and his elbow on his leg at the end of each pirouette. But it’s that infectious Harlequin smile and quirky cheerful dancing that win the heart. He is like one of those young dancers they talk about, and he rose to soloist very quickly, just two years after graduation. You can find his Prix de Lausanne 2013 video on youtube. Interestingly, you can also find a Prix de Lausanne 2013 video for Cesar Corrales, who brought the house down as Ali in ENB’s Le Corsaire, and whose dancing style is as charismatic as it is memorable.
You can also see a lovely video of Juliet dancing in 2002’s Prix de Lausanne.
Romeo Paris must die, as we all know, and everything in R&J leads us up to his moment in the crypt, sobbing by Juliet’s dead body, shoulders heaving; his youthful anger at Romeo breaking into this place of mourning – the ruthless, heartless Montague who killed Tybalt, the young lord of the Capulet empire. But Paris is dispatched with quickly, and Romeo realizes his blade has drawn blood again, and he is all the less worthy of Juliet than he thought himself to be in the balcony scene, and he is seized with despair. (At last, and at least, in death Romeo shall find absolution for all that he has done in the short space of a few days.)
Back to Paris – he dies, to the shock of the audience, because his death scene was comparatively short — everyone else took their time about it. A PG-13 (parental guidance with children aged 13 and below?) stab to the left side of the abdomen means death in this world, kids. Further, he dies with his eyes open (死不瞑目 – si bu ming mu), which shows you how 冤枉 (yuen wang) his death is.冤枉 (yuen wang) is supposed to mean “wronged”, according to google; it’s that feeling of emo angst TV characters get when they are wrongly accused of a crime and dragged off to be beheaded – they always shout that phrase. “Wronged” is polite hand-wringing compared to 冤枉, which involves breast-beating and .. dying with eyes open. We know this only because Juliet takes the time to shut his eyes for him out of pity, and we do feel pity for him, too, because he was caught in the cross-fire of misunderstandings.
Paris is Alexander Mc Gowan, who can actually be found on youtube doing dubstep dancing and other interestingly-edited videos (as KickinItGermanStyle). You can also watch Alicia Amatriain and Friedemann Vogel on youtube – she, a winsome light-footed Juliet and he, a youthful, energetic Romeo. They performed on the first night of R&J in Singapore, I think. And there’s Elisa Badenes Vazquez from Prix de Lausanne 2008 on youtube as well.
Tybalt is Matteo Crockard-Villa, a Tybalt who is quite fond of his sister, but also seems to view her as another badge for the Capulets. A bit of a bully, and mostly bad temper that runs down to the point of his sword. He is sufficiently villainous that the audience on the 2nd floor applauded when he died(!)…
Lady Capulet is the last we must speak of – we’ve described her above, and Melinda Witham plays her magnificently. She must love her children – we are quite sure of that – but she has to hold in her towering grief and put a brave face on it all – until it all cracks when Juliet dies – no, not my other child as well – and she cradles Juliet. It’s a wonder of the storytelling that you don’t think too hard about whether anyone has been selfish. You can see perfectly clearly what being a Capulet has made Lady Capulet into, and how everyone’s choices have been shaped by the unflinching hand of circumstance and by their own human perspectives.
Yes, folks, so where does that take us now? Into comparison land! When the curtains parted for Stuttgart’s Romeo and Juliet, I was rather excited to see the playful dancing of the Montague fellows – leaping towards each other with legs tucked under, knocking shoulders together. Unorthodox, unconventional dancing for a classical work.
In the tragic last pas de deux, for instance, Romeo’s arms are outstretched upwards, as if pleading for forgiveness, while Juliet leans against him, arms trailing back gracefully, in great agony and angst, and Romeo bears her weight against him as he moves backwards. Is it not glorious?
What’s interesting is the use of music. A couple of Montague festival scenes include, and make full use of, strummy mandolin tunes. Think those were cut from the Singapore version.
There is also the music used for atmosphere, and for dramatic story-telling. The greatest and most obvious case in point is actually in the Balcony Scene, though we see it with the Montagues and the Capulets (Dance of the Knights). By this, I mean the contrast is greatest here.
Goh Choo San’s Romeo and Juliet is not a tale of Verona so much as it is a tale of two very young, star-crossed lovers. Romeo is not a Lothario, but a romantic youth first seen plucking petals from a flower or bearing a rose, I forget which – a boy in need of cheering up by the irrepressible Mercutio (Timothy Coleman) and Benvolio. His love with Juliet is a sweet teenage romance, and the tragedy is in the terrifying contrast with the absolute nightmare of friends dying, of murder, of life extinguished, and of Fate, that cryptic creature that winds the story together and answers the wheretofores and why where hows in SDT’s R&J.
The music below, in the SG version, takes us to a low balcony at twilight, for a simple meeting between two hearts that are irresistibly drawn to each other.
This is Juliet in full delicate bloom, and love in blossom, though the dark is rising. The music draws us to Juliet and her full heart. 2:02 takes us into the couple’s delicate unfolding love for each other. 2:08 to 2:19 – the music deepens, sweeps us away with its slightly melancholic, wistful notes, and we are carried away to 2:40 – the music alternately sweetly reminding us of their love and yet also of the tragic end that they are quietly, inexorably being ferried towards because of their unstoppable love. I can see Chihiro’s exquisite Juliet and Kenya’s earnest, eager Romeo, how he sweeps her along, an arm about her, the legs that press together, the volumes of dancing and choreography against the strains of the violins. I can (with my bad memory) see Rosa Park’s girlish Juliet, full of light and life; and (even without my bad memory) Chen Peng’s unforgettably emo!Romeo, drenched in his youthful adoration of Juliet, declaring his boundless love for her.
I don’t remember when in the music all this is, but here’s a clip of the advert from 2014, using clips from 2011. You can see Chen Peng and Rosa, and stills of dancers: Chihiro and William Wu Mi (in an embrace as Juliet mourns Romeo’s death); at 0:46, of Rosa Park with Heidi Zolker, Xu Lei Ting, and another dancer, as someone who looks like a young Nakamura Kenya watches from the background as a Capulet (as Rosa is Juliet, you can see Paris aka William Wu Mi, in the background as well).
You can feel Juliet’s joy and hope from 4:41 of the music above, and that gorgeous heartbreaking moment from 4:57 to 5:05, to 5:12. Mere seconds in music, and so stirring. The choreography is music made alive to the mind.
2:08 to 2:19 above, in the Stuttgart version, consists of Juliet on the balcony, finding Romeo and going down towards him. There isn’t any dancing at this part yet, I think. Their pas de deux involves Juliet in absolute ecstasy, lifted on his shoulder, literally swept away and on top of the world, while Romeo, punch-drunk on being in love for the first time, slowly comes to realise that this has never really been a fling and he doesn’t want it to be one – it is the real deal for him, and he is as intent on proving his love for Juliet as he is caught up in their entire romance, until he ends up being about as swept away as Juliet. It’s a more passionate romance, one for which he willingly and eagerly flees to the altar with Juliet for, to be unequivocably her man forever and a day.
Both interpretations are interesting, but I think Goh Choo San basically used the music for the dancing rather than the atmosphere. He took each lyric of the music and whipped something out of it, so that fragments, fleeting visions of the dancers, remain etched in my mind. Well, that’s also because the dancers left their stamp on it.
John Cranko took the entire soundtrack and then fashioned a story out of it, and with it.
Right, here we have the Dance of the Knights. Tellingly, in the Stuttgart version, the men dance first, in columns, then 3 Capulets (lead Lady and 2 others) enter to dance with them, and at last, the other ladies come in. There is minimal full-out dancing, and everyone dances in rows, proud and regal, and ladies moving around their partners, through columns of men. The interlude (the one that builds up to a minor repeat of the main theme) involves, I think, the 3 masked Montague guests / interlopers sliding into the crowd. At the very end, the men kneel and press their faces to the women’s hands, an oath of allegiance.
The Goh Choo San version has the Capulets, men and women equally matched, hand-in-hand, as an imposing group, waltzing in sideways, imperiously. They are a fierce family, their warring nature brought out in their bold dancing. Some of the disappointment from my friend was that there was minimal dancing in the Stuttgart version whenever the Capulets emerged as a group.
You know what? I discovered a video online of the SDT version, so I can save my breath. HURRAY. You can also see Chihiro with Kenya in Juliet’s Theme. This was for a press conference (you can hear the shutters clicking). So sweet and heartbreaking.
In case you’ve ever wondered what everyone looks like dancing. The glorious 1:05 is where they start the incredible sideways waltz: Lord and Lady Capulet played by Mohamed Noor Sarman (SDT ballet master) with May Yen Cheah; Zhao Jun as Tybalt and his partner played by Nanase; Maughan Jemesen and Kensuke; Lewis Gardner and Chua Bi Ru, Kwok Min Yi and Jake Burden; Jason Carter and Sun Hong Lei; Marina and Huo Liang; Nazer and Lisha Chin. I think Akira and Tanaka Nonoko are in the background. Earlier, you would have seen Romeo (Kenya) hanging out with Benvolio (Etienne Ferrere) and Mercutio (Timothy Coleman).
Hey, here’s the soundtrack. It’s been years, but the Prologue still gives me the chills, and it feels like I just heard it yesterday. Oh, wait – I did. You know what I mean! 🙂
Death! death. That which makes for a substantial difference between the two ballets.
Death does not dally for the SDT version. Mercutio does stagger about pretending to be fine, briefly – he parries with his sword, he tries to laugh it off, he sways and staggers and collapses. He never quite plays it for laughs, and it breaks the heart, his bravery, and it does not linger.
Mercutio in Stuttgart’s version gets a layered death scene – one layer of partial pretense that gets his friends laughing, then kissing girls heartily (you can imagine him thinking leastways I’ll die surrounded by beautiful ladies, though you also know, from his long, hungry kisses with one of the gypsy ladies, that he does not want to die), a flicker of half-anger at having to die so young, a life wasted by folly; and a toast which everyone returns, as they wish to show him their respect and to honour him for his courage in the face of death; and a last embrace with his friends, arms slung round their shoulders – dead – and now alive again, to the audience’s audible surprise – and then dead again. It brought tears to the eyes, especially the toast; but it was a little awkward too, because the audience laughed in parts (which Mercutio would have counted a success, I think) and was continually surprised by Mercutio’s clinging to life.
Juliet’s poisoning scene ended with her collapsing on the bed; then, after a long pause, getting up to lie down again properly; then, after another pause, reaching for the blue scarf of her house and draping it over herself.
Her bridesmaids came in and danced, and I’m afraid I thought it was the equivalent of Dumbo’s pink elephant dream – you know, visons one sees when one has drunk one’s poison of choice. . .
Romeo’s death scene was rather long as well: he stabbed himself, collapsed heavily on top of Juliet’s stomach (I wondered if this was how and why she would awaken, but no) and after a while, he bestirred himself and lay down properly beside her. After another bar of music, he reached for her and rolled her over into his embrace. After another while, he ran his fingers through her hair, raising long locks up and letting them slide through his fingers, just as he had that morning when they woke in her bed. At last, his arm dropped down by the side of the bed. I mean, crypt.
Juliet’s death: when she stopped to pick up Paris’ dagger, I fancied she might stab herself beside him and drag herself to Romeo’s body, but instead, she made her way to the crypt before stabbing herself and falling on top of him. A bar or so of music passed before she rose again, and staggered about him so that she could rest her chin on his head and cradle his head in her hands, just as he had once rested his head to be cradled by her lap, and pressed his warm head against her abdomen while she embraced him. At last, she rose and fell atop him, her body sprawled over his. It was scarcely elegant, but that was the idea, I think – that their death was horrid, hardly a thing of beauty.
There it ended, with the curtains going up for the couple, who both looked exactly as if someone had just died. Such is the emotion that is required, I think – I recall Rosa Park saying that playing Juliet made her feel sad after each performance.
The audience did not stop applauding for a long time after, and each time Mercutio had to take a bow (with Benvolio and Paris), the crowd cheered for him. Next to Romeo, I think he was given the most character.
That’s another interesting thing. I’ll always remember Goh Choo San’s Tybalt kicking out in anger and frustration – absolute rage and fury in his fists. Tybalt in Stuttgart Ballet’s version is angry but it’s in the threatening frame of his body and his actions, sometimes, more than in the choreography. Maybe I am missing something. But Stuttgart’s Tybalt did stand out whenever he entered a scene – appropriately ominous in his large, angry movements.
There we have it. ABT will be here in March next year, for Swan Lake. That will be interesting, assuming I can catch it.