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Not Quite A Review of Romeo and Juliet


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#1 YouOverThere

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 11:24 PM

I made my second trip to see the Colorado Ballet's 2011 version of "Romeo and Juliet" tonight. It is way too complex a performance for a non-dancer like myself to review, but I did want to make a few comments.

The choreography this time around is significantly different from the 2003 version. In 2003, Martin Fredmann developed his own choreography with emphasis on the the violent aspects of the story. The current version, using choreography developed by someone named Alun Jones, is more concerned with the romantic parts of the story, even omitting the killing of Paris so that Romeo and Juliet could die together. The timing of the 2003 production was during the run-up to Bush's invasion of Iraq, and I've always wondered if Fredmann was trying to make an anti-war statement. The strength of this choreography is that it has a lot of good ensemble parts, so that the corps gets plenty of opportunities to dance, and the weakness is that the role of Juliet is the only female role that gets to shine (indeed, 2 of the top 4 women in the CB have been relegated to playing the minor role of Lady Capulet). It is quite a long production, with close to 2 and a quarter hours of actual performance.

Whoever created the costumes did a fantastic job. Possibly the best, most colorful costumes ever at a CB performance.

The review in the Feb. 28 The Denver Post (Links forum moderators can take that as a hint ;-) ) applied perfectly to tonight's performance. Maria Mosina has brought her 'A' game to this production. I've never fully warmed to Alexei Tyukov. He is technically very good but his gestures always seem stiff and unnatural, which I think was why the DP reviewer thought that he "brought too little emotional investment". I liked Dmitri Trubchanov's performance in the Saturday matinee better.

The best part is that the run is doing really well at the box office. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people showed up on a weeknight, and Friday's opening night was a rare near-sellout.

I can't leave without saying how bummed out I am about the retirement of Igor Vassine. From the news report (IIRC, in the Feb. 25 links) it does not sound like he was planning on retiring in the near future, but was forced to because of a degenerating knee condition. He and Maria Mosina became an established pair the first year that I started attending ballet and are an important reason why I became a fan of ballet. His retirement means that the CB has lost a principal male dancer 2 years in a row. I will go back on Sunday for his final performance. I hope that he finds something to do in Denver, because he and Maria Mosina have partnered offstage as well, and if he moves away I fear that she will follow him, and that would be a devastating loss to the CB.

#2 California

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 02:53 PM

I saw the matinee February 26, their second performance of the run, which was almost sold-out. I thought it was a great success overall. The scenery (which the Post criticized) was very clever in its minimalism, accomplishing meaningful and frequent set changes with spare elements. Importantly, it left plenty of room for the ensembles (which had been a problem with their Don Q in fall 2009). The costumes were quite lavish, colorful, and effective.

I had watched the Fonteyn-Nureyev-MacMillan DVD before seeing the Colorado Ballet's version. Given the care with which the MacMillan Estate watches to make sure nobody is stealing his choreography, I wondered how Colorado would accomplish similar moods and effects with different choreography to the same score, and thought it worked well. I liked the inclusion of lots of kids in the market scenes and the simplifying of many elements. E.g., Colorado dropped the array of bodies strewn around at the end of the Royal's version, focussing only on R&J in the crypt.

It did seem a little long, with three acts and two intermissions, running almost three hours. I wonder if there is a way to compress Acts II and III, with perhaps just a pause, but perhaps they looked at that and rejected it. (NYCB seems to be trying to eliminate so many intermissions when they can and that's appreciated.)

Others have complained about the acoustics. I was in the first row of the first tier and the full orchestra sounded glorious. The historic Opera House was just renovated a few years ago and I haven't tried different locations, so perhaps there is a problem in some places.

Let me add that I talked with some Friends volunteers before the performance about the next season. They expect to announce 2011-12 by April. They have a production of Swan Lake, and this seems a great time to join the audience-building bandwagon from the film. This is the end of the 2010-11 season, as they had to drop the late spring programs for budgetary reasons. The only performance they've announced at this point is an August appearance at the Arvada Center amphitheatre, which they've done for the last few years.

#3 YouOverThere

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 10:44 PM

I saw the matinee February 26, their second performance of the run, which was almost sold-out. I thought it was a great success overall. The scenery (which the Post criticized) was very clever in its minimalism, accomplishing meaningful and frequent set changes with spare elements. Importantly, it left plenty of room for the ensembles (which had been a problem with their Don Q in fall 2009). The costumes were quite lavish, colorful, and effective.


I completely agree. My only criticism is that the moving around between scenes is a little too visible (or maybe the houselights were a little too bright).

It did seem a little long, with three acts and two intermissions, running almost three hours. I wonder if there is a way to compress Acts II and III, with perhaps just a pause, but perhaps they looked at that and rejected it. (NYCB seems to be trying to eliminate so many intermissions when they can and that's appreciated.)


I'm not sure about cutting down on Act III. There is a whole lot of plot there. But maybe Act II could have been shortened. The "market scene" is long relative to its importance to the plot, most likely to give the other women in the company more of a chance to dance. But I never found my attention wandering.

Others have complained about the acoustics. I was in the first row of the first tier and the full orchestra sounded glorious. The historic Opera House was just renovated a few years ago and I haven't tried different locations, so perhaps there is a problem in some places.


On my first trip, I sat fairly far forward (too far forward for my taste) in the center orchestra, and the orchestra did not sound very good. Tonight I was stuck in the loge (since there were only a handful of tickets left - given my economics, I have to depend on getting tickets at "rush prices"), and the orchestra sounded really good from up there. I think that because the orchestra is so far below the seating level, if you are up front on the main floor the wall at the front is blocking the direct sound. And because they are using such a large orchestra, they have to open the under-stage area to accomodate(sp?) the orchestra so that there isn't a wall behind the orchestra.

It really is phenomenal how well this production is doing. And the Colorado Symphony is having a great year attendance-wise. I wonder what is triggering this sudden interest in the performing arts in Denver.

#4 YouOverThere

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 10:28 PM

I believe that I set a personal record for most times viewing 1 production by taking in 5 (out of the 9) performances. Despite the length, my attention never wandered. There were enough differences between the 2 pairs in the lead roles that it wasn't repetitious (actually, there was a 3rd pair that did a single performance). To me, Sharon Wehner and Dmitri Trubchanov portrayed Juliet and Romeo as innocent, carefree, impulsive young adolescents that you would have always had the feeling that things were likely to turn out badly and you wondered why Friar Laurence didn't tell them to come back in a few years. The Juliet and Romeo portrayed Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov seemed older but determined to overcome the odds, which in a way made the ending seem even more tragic. Both were effective, and it wasn't just women who were wiping their eyes at the end.

The CB seems to have solved their ticket problems. Purchasing tickets at the ticket window went smoothly and reasonably fast.


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