Los Angeles, California


Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Johan Persson.

Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky

July 10—13, 2014
The Music Center
Los Angeles, California


“★★★★/4 A Romeo and Juliet with soul... a choreographic delight, rich in detail, subtle in its musicality and always dramatically expressive” — Toronto Star, 2013

“Ratmansky’s love of speed and virtuosity in full display in Romeo and Juliet… In his version of Romeo and Juliet, love acts like a triple shot of espresso, jolting the limbs as well as the hearts of the title hero and heroine… this relentless energy gives the ballet its contemporary flavour.” — Ottawa Citizen, 2013

“And this National Ballet production is as good as it gets.” — American Record Guide, 2012

“NBC can claim to be in possession of an engrossingly thoughtful, theatrically compelling production whose swift pace and dramatic clarity may appeal to a new generation of ballet-goers.” — Dancing Times, 2012

“totally fresh… refreshing energy and a witty, unexpected slant.” — The Times, UK, 2011

“★★★★/4 A triumph of impassioned dancing and inventively challenging choreography.” – Toronto Star, 2011

“Ratmansky is the king of speed and danger... brilliant at drawing character and he understands how to highlight dramatic moments within the music. A Romeo and Juliet that builds in both excitement and pathos.” — The Globe and Mail, 2011 

“Dazzling combat choreography... sweeping lifts. A new modern classic for the company’s diamond anniversary.” — National Post, 2011 

“[A Romeo and Juliet] to treasure for the next 60 years.” — Toronto Sun, 2011 

“a moment for the National Ballet to celebrate… sublime” — The Walrus, 2011 

“A triumph for Kain and company… one of those moments that defined the company's history” — The Montreal Gazette, 2011 

“Ratmansky spreads the drama throughout the ballet, spinning an even more epic tale than usual” — Dance Magazine, 2011 




Scene I
Morning in the Italian Renaissance city of Verona. Romeo, of the Montague family, greets the awakening day. As the city comes to life, Romeo is joined by two friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, and the market square is soon filled with people. The bitter enmity between the Montague and Capulet families emerges with the arrival of Tybalt, a Capulet. Innocuous teasing escalates into swordplay as Tybalt fights with Benvolio and Mercutio. Lord and Lady Capulet and Lord and Lady Montague enter. There is a brief lull in the fighting but soon Capulet and Montague take up swords themselves. The Duke of Verona enters with his guards and intervenes, chastening all of the combatants. The crowd parts, revealing the bodies of two dead young men.

Scene II
In her bedroom, Juliet, the daughter of Lord and Lady Capulet, plays affectionately with her Nurse as she prepares for a ball. Her mother enters and tells her of Paris, an aristocratic suitor, whom they expect Juliet to marry. Her father enters with Paris. Juliet is uncertain about the arrangement but she receives Paris graciously.

Scene III
A lavish ball at the Capulet home. Juliet is being displayed by her father for the assembled guests. Disguised by masks, Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio slip unannounced into the ball. When Romeo sees Juliet, he is immediately lovestruck. After Juliet dances with Paris, Romeo approaches her and professes his feelings. Juliet immediately falls in love. Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, suspects the interloper and unmasks him, revealing his true identity. Enraged at Romeo’s effrontery, the hotheaded Tybalt demands revenge but he is stopped by Lord Capulet. As the guests depart, Tybalt warns Juliet to stay away from Romeo.

Scene IV
Later that night, Romeo waits beneath Juliet’s balcony. When she appears at her window he makes his presence known. Juliet comes down to him and, despite the danger of their situation which has now become all too clear to both, they pledge their love to each other.



Scene I
In the market square, Romeo, delirious with love, is gently mocked by Mercutio and Benvolio. Juliet’s Nurse arrives, bearing a letter to Romeo from Juliet, agreeing to secretly marry him. Romeo is overjoyed.

Scene II
As planned, Romeo and Juliet meet with Friar Laurence, who has offered to marry them despite the risk, in the hope that it might bring peace to the warring families. He performs the ceremony and the two young lovers are wed.

Scene III
In the market square, Mercutio and Benvolio encounter Tybalt. Mercutio taunts Tybalt. Romeo enters. Tybalt challenges Romeo to a swordfight but Romeo refuses. Mercutio is less reluctant and, after an exchange of insults, he and Tybalt cross swords and fight. Romeo seeks to intervene and stop them but inadvertently abets Mercutio’s death. A griefstricken and guiltridden Romeo takes up a sword and fights Tybalt, killing him. Lord and Lady Capulet enter, distraught to find Tybalt dead. The Duke arrives and as his guards bear away the bodies of Tybalt and Mercutio, he angrily banishes Romeo, who flees.



Scene I
Juliet’s bedroom at dawn. Romeo, although banished, has stayed for his wedding night with Juliet. But now, however sorrowfully, Romeo must depart, before they are discovered. After Romeo has gone, Juliet’s parents enter with Paris and tell her that she is to marry him the following day. Juliet protests but her father brutally silences her. In despair, Juliet rushes off to seek help from Friar Laurence.

Scene II
In his cell, Friar Laurence gives Juliet a vial containing a sleeping draught that will simulate death. He will send word of the plan to Romeo, who will return to rescue her from the family vault when she has awakened.

Scene III
Juliet returns to her bedroom, where she pretends to bow to her parents’ will and marry Paris. Left alone, however, she takes the sleeping draught and falls into a death-like slumber on her bed. In the morning, Lord and Lady Capulet, Paris, the Nurse and several bridesmaids arrive to wake Juliet. The Nurse tries to rouse her but when she doesn’t respond, everyone believes she is dead.

Scene IV
In the Capulet vault, Juliet lies still in her death-like sleep. Romeo enters, but not having received Friar Laurence’s message, believes Juliet is really dead. In despair, he drinks a lethal poison to join her in death. Before he dies, though, he sees Juliet awaken and he realizes the cruel extent of what has happened. When Romeo is dead, Juliet takes his knife and kills herself. The Montagues and Lord Capulet, the Duke, Friar Laurence and others enter to discover the terrible scene. Realizing the part their enmity has played in the tragedy, the Capulets and Montague are reconciled in their sorrow.

Background Notes

Romeo and Juliet and The National Ballet of Canada go back a long way together. The ballet entered the company’s repertoire in1964, in the version created by John Cranko. The enduring dramatic power of its source material and Prokofiev’s score made it for over four decades a virtual signature piece for the National Ballet and something of a touchstonefor successive generations of both male and female dancers.

To celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary in 2011, Artistic Director Karen Kain, who as a performer had been one of her era’s finest Juliets, decided to commission a new version of the ballet, one that would bring a fresh perspective and stylistic vision to the story and music and that would both challenge and draw on the strengths of today’s dancers. The person Ms. Kain thought could best realize the project and whose sensibilities and skill she felt would mesh instinctively with the company’s character and goals was the gifted and celebrated Russian choreographer, Alexei Ratmansky.


A former Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet and now Artist-in-Residence with American Ballet Theatre in New York, the work of the much sought-after Mr. Ratmansky combined a superb command of the classical idiom with a bold contemporary flair. Along with his deep grasp of and passion for Prokofiev’s complex, vibrant score and Shakespeare’s play, this made him, in Ms. Kain’s view, the ideal candidate.

When the National Ballet’s new version of Romeo and Juliet premiered on November 16, 2011, anticipation and expectations were high. But Ms. Kain’s instincts were proved right. The entire production, from its physically intense and emotionally-charged choreographic freshness to Richard Hudson’s brilliantly evocative sets and costumes, was a huge success with audiences and critics alike. Mr. Ratmansky’s Romeo and Juliet was more than a fitting 60th anniversary tribute. It opened a new chapter in the company’s history and reinvigorated for a new generation one of the most timeless and affecting of all narrative ballets.

Running Times

ACT I –  50 minutes
Intermission – 20 minutes
ACT II – 30 minutes
Intermission – 20 minutes
ACT III – 40 minutes

The performance will run approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.

“★★★★/4... A triumph of impassioned dancing and inventively challenging choreography.” — Toronto Star