Matthew Ball as Romeo and Yasmine Naghdi as Juliet in  Romeo and Juliet, The Royal Ballet © 2015 ROH. Photograph by Alice Pennefather

Romeo and Juliet

1022 July 2020
Online only
Ballet and dance

Online premiere: Friday 10 July 2020 at 7pm BST, broadcast free online as part of the Royal Opera House's #OurHouseToYourHouse series.

Kenneth MacMillan’s passionate and nuanced choreography for Romeo and Juliet shows The Royal Ballet at its dramatic finest. The dancers playing the star-crossed lovers of the title have a wealth of opportunity for powerful interpretation, not least in the celebrated pas de deux. Around them, the whole Company creates the colour and action of Renaissance Verona, where a busy market bursts into sword fighting and a family feud leads to tragedy for the Montagues and Capulets. Prokofiev’s beautiful score sweeps this dramatic ballet towards its inevitable, emotional end.

In 1965, MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet was given its premiere at Covent Garden by The Royal Ballet and was an immediate success: the first night was met with rapturous applause, which lasted for 40 minutes, and an incredible 43 curtain calls. The title roles were danced by Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, although the ballet had been created on Christopher Gable and Lynn Seymour. It has been performed by The Royal Ballet more than four hundred times since, as well as touring the world, and has become a true classic of the 20th-century ballet repertory.

With warm thanks to

Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet (Season Principal), Coutts, The Kirsh Foundation, Julia and Hans Rausing, Friends of the Royal Opera House and all the supporters of The Royal Ballet

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Synopsis

Romeo and Juliet fall passionately in love, but their families are caught up in a deadly feud. They marry in secret, but tragic circumstances lead Romeo to kill Juliet’s cousin Tybalt in a fight. As punishment, Romeo is banished from Verona.

Juliet’s parents try to force her to marry Paris, so she resorts to drastic action. She drinks a sleeping potion that will feign death, a deception that will enable her to escape and join Romeo. But her message explaining this fails to reach Romeo. On hearing of her reported death, he secretly returns to Verona and her tomb, where he kills himself. When Juliet wakes it is to discover Romeo dead. Devastated, she stabs herself.

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