For the last two days, I've been in the Royal Opera House again, photographing Romeo and Juliet for my forthcoming book. The run of performances has been a long one but as ever, the energy of the company is high and as exciting as it was in the first performance. The fact that it is coming to a close is a sad one for all of us. Time and time again I hear how much the ballet company loves to perform Romeo and Juliet not least because of the wonderful responses from the audiences but because of it's demand on every single member of the company.
I'm not sure on the statistics, but I'd be surprised if it hasn't been performed every single year since it's creation in 1965 and that's just with the Royal Ballet. It is now a 'regular' with many European ballet companies and there are 3 different designed productions.
I was 26 months old when I first saw Romeo and Juliet. My mother recalls that I sat, fixed to my chair in the auditorium all throughout the performance and I wouldn't remove my duffle coat, nor put my hood down. From the moment I saw it, I loved it. I have since seen close to a hundred shows in my 42 years. I have seen it performed in a tent (when the Royal Ballet toured in one), in a defunct zoo (China), America, Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia. And yet it never gets old or boring. It is perhaps for me a timeless ballet. Of course owes it's existence to Shakespeare's genius but also because it regenerates with every new cast that performs it. The choreography is such that it requires subjective interpretation; I have seen Juliets which have been innocents caught in a crossfire of hatred and Juliets who have manipulated their fate into 'getting their man', Tybalts who have been irrational drunks, or overprotective cousins, Lady Capulets who were borderline certifiable or emotionally irrational and Romeos who were haplessly romantic or reformed 'players'. But each performance brings something new, exciting and intriguing.
Which is why I loved it today when Steven McRae suggested, jokingly, that the Royal Ballet do a 'Romeo Tuesdays'; every tuesday they perform it, with different casts. and judging on recent audience attendance it would be a popular one !
Here is Steven and Iana Salenko rehearsing today for Monday's performance.