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Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, Goyo Montero and the Spanish National Dance Company at the Teatro Real in Madrid

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 , ora 8.46

Between 16th and 27th April, 2013, the Teatro Real in Madrid will feature the Spanish National Dance Company's most recent premiere, Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev. A ballet that has been considered among the highest classical values is always a challenge for a contemporary choreographer. Famous Spanish dancer José Carlos Martinez has been the company's new manager since September, 2011.

The choreography, art direction and the lights of the new show are Goyo Montero's work; he is the current Balletdirector at the Staatstheater Nürnberg Ballet and the winner of the National Spanish Prize for Dance in 2011. His vision of Romeo and Juliet's score is fresh, but mostly original. The choreography brings a new character to the stage, Mab, the Queen of Dreams, Destiny and Death. The Queen appears in Shakespeare's play in one of Mercutio's famous monologues. In Goyo Montero's reading, Mab is, simultaneously, a narrator - she utters the aforesaid monologue on stage - and a priestess, witnessing the drama and suggesting the constant presence of death, of destiny or simply of time. Mercutio takes the foreground, he becomes more important, and we see it in his costume, which gives him prominence - a red waistcoast and a hat - in a context ruled by black. Another interesting option of the choreographer is that of casting the same dancer in the roles of Lady Capulet and the Nanny, thus creating a bipolar character that conveys two opposite sides of motherhood.

Montero uses Prokofiev's music with its dramatic and emotional charge and the result is extraordinary. The ballet flows in a sequence of group scenes that are absolutely spectacular, full of acrobatic elements, especially during the brawl between Montague and Capulet supporters, and delicate, lyrical duos. Juliet's costumes are plain dresses, a white one in the first part and a red one from the marriage scene onwards. Once again, we see these patches of colour that seem to float about the stage, gracefully and ethereally. Music consists only of two 55-minute-long segments, and Montero justifies it by the desire to take out repetitions and to concentrate the rising action musically, as well, in dramatic and intense crescendo.

During the previous evening, the Madrid Symphony Orchestra, the resident ensemble of the Teatro Real, had played Mozart's Don Giovanni, a difficult score. Less than 24 hours later, I rediscovered the same ensemble playing Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, not an easy score at all. Under the baton of Belgian maestro Koen Kessels, it felt as if I was listening to a completely different orchestra. Koen Kessels has been the conductor of Birmingham Royal Ballet since 2010. Certainly, he only conducts ballet performances on great stages such as that of the Paris Opera, the Vienna State Opera or the Bolshoy Theatre. His collaboration with the dancers was beyond reproach.

Although there are leading roles in this ballet, when I think about this performance I can see the entire ensemble, where each ballet dancer has their own personality, integrated perfectly in the whole. That is why I shall not highlight, appreciate or admire certain names; I shall only say that this Romeo and Juliet, with Goyo Montero's choreography, performed by the Spanish National Dance Company led by José Carlos Martinez is definitely one of the most beautiful offers in today's art of dance all around the world.

Cristina Sârbu
Translated by Irina Borțoi and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University