If there is one story we could consider being "done to death," it would be Romeo and Juliet. However translated, however interpreted, this story of forbidden love has been told over and over again, on the stage, in film, through books and in song.
There have been countless more told, perhaps not about Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet (as in Shakespeare's tale), but about a similar love torn asunder by feuding families.
Why, then, don't we consider it done to death? No matter how many films, books or plays emerge bearing the same themes, we never tire of them. It is a story nearly everyone can relate to and one that can constantly be reinvented because its scope is so broad, its themes so encompassing.
The story was first told in 1562 through an Arthur Brooke poem called "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet," retold in prose in 1582 through William Painter's Palace of Pleasure and made famous in 1597 by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.
In 1935, a ballet was commissioned by the Kirov Ballet, the famous St. Petersburg company, composed by Sergei Prokofiev to be based on Shakespeare's theatrical version of the tale. The ballet, which came with a happy ending, was never publicly performed due to fear of criticism. The music, however, was heard all over Moscow and the U.S. and the ballet finally premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on Dec. 30, 1938.
In 1940, the choreography was revised by Leonid Lavrovsky and was finally presented at the Kirov Ballet on January 11, to Prokofiev's consternation and audience's delight.
Many other choreographers have since revived the ballet and incorporated their own interpretations, and the ballet continues to be one of the world's favorite ways to enjoy and relive this classic tale.
The Tulsa Ballet will present, for the third time, famed choreographer Michael Smuin's Emmy Award-winning production of the masterpiece this weekend, Fri., Sept. 21 through Sun., Sept. 23.
The performance will be one of the first of Smuin's work to follow his untimely death in April. Smuin died of a heart attack at the age of 69 while in his studios at the San Francisco Ballet, where he was the artistic director.
Like many noted choreographers around the world, Smuin was very picky with which companies he would let perform his works, and TB's artistic director, Marcello Angelini, expressed in a previous interview an immense gratitude for being allowed to perform this work, not just once, but three times now. He also said this ballet, choreographed by Smuin in 1976, is one of his favorites.
And it should be a favorite for audiences as well. Because it is such a classic piece and because nearly everyone knows the story, it will be something new TB audiences as well as experienced patrons will enjoy and relate to.
Alfonso Martin and Karina Gonzalez will dance the principal roles on Friday and Saturday, and Ashley Blade-Martin and Wang Yi will perform them on Sunday.
Performances begin at 8pm on Friday and Saturday and 3pm on Sunday in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. 2nd St. There will be an opening night gala, called An Evening in Verona, on Friday at 6pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, with cocktails and a dinner. Tickets are $100 per person.
TB will also perform Romeo and Juliet in Oklahoma City on Sat., Sept. 29.
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