Company: Royal Ballet
What: Romeo & Juliet
Where: London, Opera House, Covent Garden
When: 15 February 2001
Tamara Rojo triumphs again. I sometimes fear we expect too much but she always seems to whisk you away to another reality. Breathtaking.
Rojo's first Juliet with the company and eagerly awaited - the more so because of the excellence of her other recent premieres and Juliet is a character that she knows already from other somewhat less illustrious productions.
Just in case you don't know... Young love at first triumphs over a family feud but circumstances connive to see them commit suicide rather than face life without one another. Besides a great love story you get much power play, fighting and partying not to mention dancing harlots. An epic but best to read the programme notes to get all the twists.
Sets and Costumes
Nicholas Georgiadis has designed new sets which are more open and altogether less brooding, dark and rich. It will take me a while to get used to them and until then I will probably reserve full judgment. However I found them far less dramatic and the crypt scene is now very ordinary rather than extraordinary. The costumes also looked to have been reworked and are rather lighter in weight too - or do my eyes deceive. Overall I had the feeling of an old friend mucked about.
Not much to say about what some would argue is MacMillan's best - certainly his most popular work. It's the pas de deux and small pieces that particularly attract.
Tamara Rojo is probably the most dramatic dancer I've seen in a long time and is almost purpose designed for Juliet. She naturally starts light and innocent, her size and the design of dress emphasising her youth still more - just perfect. But the passion slowly unfolds and at the end your guts wrench with hers as she beats herself so very hard at discovering Romeo's dead body. Having seen more than a few Juliets, such physicality still comes as a tremendous shock. Technically she is incredibly secure in the choreography and this makes you secure as well and the usual nagging doubts (I have, anyway) are banished and you bask in the perfection of the movement.
Rojo's Romeo was Inaki Urlezaga, a well-mannered enough dancer and one who has made good strides in some roles but alas not yet in Romeo. He tended to look somewhat befuddled by events rather than man of action - more the type to order Ginger Beer rather than Dom Perignon. David Pickering as Paris on the other hand looked a far better bet for a damsel! I also enjoyed Ricardo Cervera and Hubert Essakow as Mercutio and Benvolio - the start of a fine team of likely lads in the making.
Does it work?
Audiences will always go to R&J no matter. But Rojo is very special and worth seeing no matter what other dancer you may have booked for already.