Many composers have been inspired by this tragic love story of a young couple who get caught up in the machinations of two opposing parties. Perhaps the best-known ballet version is that of Sergei Prokofiev, with choreographies by Leonid Lawrowski, John Cranko or John Neumeier. Semperoper audiences are familiar with the work of Belgian choreographer Stijn Celis through his »Vertigo Maze« and an updated version of »Cinderella« which ran the gamut of emotions from grim ferocity to wild humour. Now he returns to Dresden to offer a fresh take on »Romeo and Juliet«, snapping the shackles of tradition to present a contemporary tale of youthful tragedy.
The future casts its long shadow. The house of Capulet engulfed in the abyss.
Romeo Montague and his friends, including Mercutio and Benvolio, are involved in an incident in the street which gradually fills up with people. There is tension in the air. It develops into a brawl which becomes a general quarrel. When Tybalt and other members of the house of Capulet appear, the situation escalates and a fight ensues, in which the latent enmity of the two clans Montague and Capulet is revealed.
A glance at the centre of the Capulet family shows how their daughter Juliet is being educated by her parents and her cousin Tybalt. She has to keep within the code of the family’s rules. She is confronted with Paris, her future husband. Feeling that she has been “sold off”, she witnesses the arrival of the guests appearing for her engagement at the Capulet ball.
The celebration is underway. Mercutio, Benvolio and Romeo secretly mingle with the guests. They witness the arranged union between Paris and Juliet. When their eyes meet, Romeo and Juliet fall passionately in love with each other. This does not go unnoticed. Tybalt’s general hatred for the Montague clan turns into a desire for revenge against Romeo.
Juliet’s nurse is overcome by a sense of foreboding.
Romeo and Juliet meet in secret and confess their love for each other.
The nurse and the old man savour the joys of being old.
Hidden from the public eye, the nurse gives Romeo a letter from Juliet: she asks Romeo to come to Friar Laurence so they can be married.
The marriage ceremony is performed.
The two enemy clans meet in the street. Mercutio tries to provoke Tybalt who is caught by his hatred for Romeo. Surprisingly Tybalt assures Romeo that their old enmity will be set aside - a pretence which ends in Tybalt killing Mercutio. To revenge Mercutio’s death, Romeo challenges the Capulet to a dual. Tybalt dies.
Romeo and Juliet meet one last time and bid each other farewell. As a murderer, Romeo is on the run.
In her loneliness, Juliet realises the hopelessness of her situation.
Friar Laurence discovers the despairing Juliet and offers to help her: he has a drug which will make her appear dead until he has informed Romeo so that he can rejoin her and save her.
Once again, Juliet’s family urge her to marry Paris. She appears to consent. Once alone, she takes the drug given to her by Friar Laurence. The drug has its planned effect.
Juliet’s supposed death is a shock for the Capulets and for Paris. However, only when Romeo discovers Juliet’s body laid out does the tragedy reach its climax.
An Old Man
master of ceremonies
Set Design & Lighting Design
Staatskapelle Dresden Generously supported by the Semperoper Foundation
Ostsächsische Sparkasse Dresden