Collaborators blend dance, music, and story to present Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet
Though Neglia Ballet premiered their Romeo and Juliet in 2008, this marks the first time it will be performed with live music. “There is no comparing a performance with live music to a performance with CD,” says Halt. “The actual sound of the music is so much richer.”
Indeed, the audience and the dancers are more keenly aware of the details of Prokofiev’s score, one of ballet’s most lush and lyrical orchestrations, in a performance with live musicians. “My favorite music is when Juliet has a moment of clarity before her tragic end and at that moment she resolves to do what she has to do. The melody of the bedroom pas de deux, the lovers’ farewell, is repeated but much stronger and somewhat desperate. For me it is the climax of the score,” observes choreographer Sergio Neglia, who is also the production’s Romeo.
Unlike other ballet narratives, which can have sketchy storylines and a variety of musical interpretations, Prokofiev provides a “roadmap” through Shakespeare’s very familiar plot. “The music tells me exactly what needs to happen in Romeo and Juliet,” says Neglia, who like Prokofiev, sticks closely to the original character-driven tragedy. Adds Halt, “Sergio is a great storyteller and is quite remarkable in conveying what he wants. When he demonstrates the character, he is the character.”
Neglia often takes on several of these roles almost simultaneously during his choreographic process, admitting that this can sometimes drive his cast crazy.