It was more a social than an artistic experiment. Kenneth MacMillan's choreography is largely intact, but is bigged up by an amplified orchestra, heightened set and live relay screens (essential for a stadium this size). Filmed vignettes of the dancers serve as intertitles to scene changes, and the whole production – with its declamatory gestures, emotive live music, cutting between crowd scenes and closeups – has the feel of silent cinema.
A shambolic entry system means that curtain-up is delayed, and latecomers clutching plastic pints of beer and hotdogs are drip fed in through the first act.
It’s a fun, if slightly chaotic vibe, and it seems many of the punters in this 20,000-seat venue aren’t the usual Royal Opera House locals; the ballet is truly being bought to the masses.
Even sitting relatively near the stage, your eyes generally went up to the middle screen, which, given all the camera pans, meant you were in fact looking at a selectively edited version of what was happening on the stage. For those at the far end of the vast space, the stage itself must have been all but irrelevant. (Certainly, Nicholas Georgiadis’s monumental designs for the ballet were bowdlerised throughout.)
The Evening Standard
But you can live with all this with the magnificent Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo as Romeo and Juliet. If he is past his virtuoso youth, her dancing is both sumptuous and the match of the venue - she's had practice at the Royal Albert Hall while at English National Ballet a decade ago. Both were acting so potently that even from the back of the 02 you could only envy the romantic daring and velvet sensuality of Shakespeare's star crossed lovers. What Hollywood actor could convey the intimacy and exhilaration of a first kiss in so vast a venue?