Essay: the Ballet “Romeo and Juliet” Prokofiev

Essay: the Ballet “Romeo and Juliet” Prokofiev

The contents

Introduction. 2

1. The history of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet”. 4

2. The main characters, images and their characteristics. 7

3. Theme of Juliet (analysis of form, means of musical expression, methods of presentation of musical material for imaging) 12

Conclusion. 15

List of references 16…


Sergei Prokofiev was one of the great creators of the twentieth century, created an innovative musical theatre. The subjects of his operas and ballets are strikingly contrasting. The legacy of Prokofiev’s impressive how a variety of genres, and the number of created works. Over 130 pieces of music written by the composer during the period from 1909 to 1952. Rare Prokofiev’s creative output is not only a fanatical desire to write, but a disciplined, industrious, well mannered from childhood. His works include almost all musical genres: Opera and ballet, instrumental concert, Symphony, Sonata and piano piece, song, romance, cantata, theatre and film music, music for children. Amazing breadth of creative interests of Prokofiev, his amazing ability to switch from one plot to another, entering into the artistic world of the great poetic creations. Imagination Prokofiev possess images of skifta developed by the natural history Unit, Stravinsky (“Ala and Lolli”), Russian folklore (“the Clown”), the tragedy of Dostoevsky (the gambler) and Shakespeare (“Romeo and Juliet”). He turns to wisdom and eternal goodness of the tales of Andersen, Perrault, Bazhov and selflessly works, absorbed by the events tragic, but glorious pages of Russian history (Alexander Nevsky, “War and peace”). He knows how to have fun, contagious laugh (“the Duenna”, “the Love for three oranges”). Chooses modern stories that show the time of the October revolution (the cantata “For the 20th anniversary of October”), civil war (Semyon Kotko), the great Patriotic war (“the Story of a real man”). And these pieces do not do a tribute to the time, the desire to “play up” events. They all testify to the high civil positions Prokofiev.

A very special area of creativity of Prokofiev’s work for children. Until the last days of his Prokofiev kept a young, fresh perception of the world. From a great love for children, communicating with them, there was a mischievous song “Tattletale” (on poems by A. Barto), and “Pigs” (verses L. Kvitka), exciting symphonic tale “Peter and the wolf”, a cycle of piano miniatures “Children’s music”, dramatic poem about the taken by the war childhood “the Ballad of the boy remains unknown” (lyrics by P. Antokolsky).

Prokofiev often had their own musical themes. But always the transfer of those compositions in composition was accompanied by creative adaptations. This is evidenced by the sketches and drafts of the composer, plays a special role in his creative process. The writing process is often directly influenced Prokofiev live communication with Directors, performers, conductors. Criticisms of the first performers of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” has led to the modification of orchestration in certain scenes. However, advice was taken Prokofiev only when they are convinced and do not run counter to his own vision of the work.

At the same time, Prokofiev was a subtle psychologist, and at least the outer side of imagery, the composer has taken a psychological effect. It he also embodied with remarkable subtlety and precision, as one of the greatest ballets of the twentieth century – the ballet “Romeo and Juliet”.

1. The history of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet”

A true masterpiece was the first major work – the ballet “Romeo and Juliet”. Difficult he started his stage life. It was written in the years 1935-1936. Libretto designed by the composer together with the Director by S. radiovym and choreographer L. Lavrovsky (L. Lavrovsky and made the first staging of the ballet in 1940 at the Leningrad theatre of Opera and ballet named after S. M. Kirov). But gradually getting used to the unusual music of Prokofiev is still successful. The ballet “Romeo and Juliet” was completed in 1936, but conceived before. The fate of the ballet and then evolved complex. At first there was difficulties with the completion of the ballet. Prokofiev with Sergey radiovym, developing the script, was thinking about a happy end, which caused an uproar in shekspiroved. Explained the apparent irreverence to the great playwright simply: “the Reasons which have pushed us to this barbarism were purely choreographic: living people can dance, the dying don’t dance lying down.” The decision to end the ballet, as in Shakespeare, tragically, was affected by the fact that in the music itself, in its final episodes it was pure joy. Problem was resolved after conversations with choreographers, when it turned out that “you can allow the ballet end with a deadly outcome”. However, a Large theatre had breached the contract, considering the non-dancing music. The second time refused the contract. the Leningrad choreographic school. The first production of “Romeo and Juliet” took place in 1938 in Czechoslovakia in Brno. The Director of the ballet was the famous choreographer L. Lavrovsky. The role of Juliet was danced by the celebrated Galina Ulanova.

Although in the past there have been attempts to present Shakespeare in ballet (for example, in 1926, Diaghilev was staged the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” with music by the English composer K. Lambert) but none of them admits a good. It seemed that if the images of Shakespeare can be put into the Opera, as was done, Bellini, Gounod, Verdi, or in symphonic music as Tchaikovsky in the ballet because of it’s genre specific — not. In this regard, the appeal by Prokofiev for Shakespeare’s story was a bold step. However, the tradition of Russian and Soviet ballet, this step is prepared.

The appearance of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” is the important turning point milestone in the work of Sergei Prokofiev. The ballet “Romeo and Juliet” has become one of the most significant gains towards finding a new dance production. Prokofiev is committed to the embodiment of the living human emotions, assertion of realism. Prokofiev’s music vividly reveals the main conflict of Shakespeare’s tragedy – the collision of love with the tribal hostility of the older generation, describing the savagery of the medieval way of life. The composer created a ballet fusion — the fusion of drama and music, as in the time of Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” combined poetry with dramatic action. Prokofiev’s music conveys the subtle psychological movements of the human soul, the richness of Shakespeare’s thought, passion and drama of his first of the most perfect tragedies. Prokofiev was able to recreate the ballet of Shakespeare’s characters in their diversity and fullness, deep poetry and vitality. Poetry of love of Romeo and Juliet, humor and mischief Mercutio, the Nurse, the innocence, the wisdom of father Lorenzo, the fury and the brutality of Tybalt, festive and exuberant flavor of Italian streets, tenderness of the morning dawn and the dramatic scenes of death are embodied by Prokofiev with skill and enormous expressive force.

The specificity of the ballet required the consolidation of actions of its concentration. Cutting off all incidental or secondary to the tragedy, Prokofiev his attention focused on the Central semantic aspects: love and death; a fatal enmity between the two families of the nobility of Verona – the Montagues and the Capulets that led to the death of the lovers. “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokofiev is a richly developed choreographic drama with complex psychological States of motivation, an abundance of clear musical portraits-of the characteristics. The libretto is concise and clearly shows the basis of Shakespeare’s tragedy. It retained the basic sequence of scenes (only a few cut scenes – 5 acts of the tragedy are grouped in 3 major acts).

“Romeo and Juliet” ballet is deeply innovative. The novelty of it is manifested in the principles of symphonic development. Simfonizirovannoe drama ballet concludes three different types.

The first conflict the opposition of good and evil. All the characters – good shows is diverse and multifaceted. Evil composer is more generally, bringing the themes of hostility to the subjects of rock of the XIX century, to some of the topics of evil of the XX century. The theme of evil inherent in all activities except for the epilogue. They invade the world of the characters and not developing.

The second type of symphonic development is associated with a gradual transformation of images – Mercutio and Juliet, with the opening of psychological States of the characters and showing the inner growth images.

The third type detects the features of variazionali, variability inherent in the Prokofiev Symphony as a whole, it particularly affected the lyrical themes.

All three of these are subject to type in ballet to the principles of film editing, special rhythm personnel actions, methods of large -, medium-and long-range plans, methods of “sagging,” the sharp contrast of oppositions that give the scenes a special meaning.

2. The main characters, images and their characteristics

Ballet in three acts (fourth act – the epilogue), two rooms and nine paintings.

Act I – exposition images, introduction of Romeo and Juliet at the ball.

Act II.4 picture – the bright world of love, wedding.5 picture – a terrible scene of strife and death.

III action.6 picture – good-bye.7, 8 of the picture – the solution to Juliet to take the sleeping potion.

Epilogue.9 picture – the death of Romeo and Juliet.

Act I

Scene 1 takes place among the picturesque squares and streets of Verona, is gradually filled with movement after a night of rest. Scene the main character, Romeo, “with the wistful longing for love”, seeking solitude, is followed by the quarrel and the fight of representatives of two warring families. Raging opponents stop the terrible order of the Duke, “Under pain of death, all men depart. “

Plot: canvas 1st painting is embodied in music so that in the ballet occurs a gradual transition from the lyric genre episodes drama. Change shape associated with a consistent acceleration, creating a contrasting effect of a single line of scenic rhythm. At the beginning of the pattern (No. 1-membership No. 2-“Romeo”) is dominated by the lyrics and sounds a number of the main lyrical themes representing the main characters and themes of love, Juliet love dance Romeo. They combine the beauty of the melodic lines, light color, major, slow tempo.

After the lyrics Prokofiev genre shows the background picture of the awakening of the Italian streets (No. 3-“the Street awakens”), fun and mischief (No. 4, “Morning dance”).

The theme of the streets generalizes the folk-genre images. Scherzo, angular, with a Bouncing tone, chord cluster (FA sharp — Sol — La), it sounds from bassoon. Consequently, this theme will be the subject of Mercutio will also appear in the role of the Nurse.

Gradually growing genre, the action is replaced with drama, fun and mischief turn into quarrel and fight, (No. 5,“the Quarrel” and No. 6-Combat). The genre here transformirovalsya: tighter orchestration, and intense dynamics, the enhanced akzentrot, speeding up the tempo, making the music features of aggressiveness. The culmination of the dramatic action – No. 7 “the Order of the Duke” – creates a sharp braking movements. A slow paced, ominous sounding cluster chords even more emphasize the fatal nature of what is happening, a new plan of perception.

All the beginning of the 2nd picture of the ballet is dedicated to preparation for the ball of Juliet. Soon the parade of guests and the dancing well-born nobility. Although the 2nd picture is based on the alternation deployed the genre of the crowd scenes and lyrical portrait, the Central line is dedicated to Romeo and Juliet. Revealing complex psychological action, Prokofiev uses the techniques of screenwriting in the first place of film editing. The specifics of the installation in the movies is that the comparison of the different frames have to make quality, not just to create a contrast.

An example of a new type of personnel-installation of building — No. 10, “Juliet-girl”. For a short scene shows different facets of the heroine’s character and how would prorezalsya its fate: turning naughty “fidget” in a gentle and graceful beauty; her passionate and deep love that made Juliet immortal; and death, preseka centuries of animosity, break the chain of fatal events. The sounds(№ 11 “Minuet”) officially and solemnly going to visit. In the middle part, melodic and graceful, appear young girlfriend Juliet. No. 12, “Masks” Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio in masks having fun at the ball – the melody close to the character of Mercutio-merry: fancy marsh gives way to a mocking, humorous Serenade. No. 13 “Dance of the knights” – a detailed scene, written in the form of a Rondo, a group portrait – General characteristic of the feudal lords (as a characteristic of the family Capulet and Tybalt). Refren – galloping dotted rhythm in arpeggio, in combination with a measured heavy tread of the bass creates an image of vindictiveness, stupidity, arrogance – the brutal and unforgiving. No. 14, “Juliet’s Variation”.1 the theme – the sound echoes dance with the groom – embarrassment, stiffness.2 topic – Juliet-girl – sounds graceful, poetic. In the 2nd half is the theme of Romeo, who first sees Juliet (from the introduction) – in the rhythm of a Minuet (he sees her dancing) and a second time characteristic of Romeo soundtrack (bouncy gait). No. 15 “Mercutio” – a portrait of jovial wit – Scherzo movement full of texture, harmony and rhythmic surprises that embodies the sparkle, wit, irony Mercutio (as if skipping). No. 16 “Madrigal” Romeo refers to Juliet – 1 sounds the theme of “Madrigal”, reflecting the traditional formal dance moves and mutual expectation. Breaks 2 theme – a playful theme of Juliet-girl (sounds alive, fun), appears for the first time 1 love theme – origin. No. 17, “Tybalt recognizes Romeo” – ominous sounding theme of the feud and the theme of knights. No. 18 “Gavotte” – departure of the guests – a traditional dance. No. 19, “balcony Scene” – a quivering, a variety of semantic shades, but it is closed in structure. It is framed by the gentle nocturna theme with features of a lullaby. In the lyrical episodes of the scene from the balcony concentrated almost all the themes of love of ballet. No. 20, “Romeo’s Variation”, No. 21”Love dance” lyrical heart of the whole ballet.

Act II

In the second act, each of the planned lines — of genre, lyrical and dramatic — are actively developing. Fiery carnival of dance is transferred into the open streets — the 3rd picture. Prokofiev paints a scene of people’s fun, filled with colors and joy the Italian streets — No. 22, ”folk dance”, No. 25, ”Dance with mandolins”, No. 24, ”dance of the five couples”. Flashed fiery rhythms of tarantula, unexpected tonal twists and turns, accents, echoes different instruments.The 4th pattern consists of two numbers (No. 28, ”Romeo at father Lorenzo’s” No. 29 “to Juliet at father Lorenzo’s”). They form a single scene – the scene of the wedding. In this picture there is a new wonderful lyrical theme — No. 29, it then arises in the third act (No. 38). Fragile and delicate melody of the flute, aged ostinato rhythm (with features lullaby) create a flavor of zavorozhennosti.

5th picture starts a chain of tragic outcomes to the ballet. From the hand of Tybalt and Mercutio dies, Romeo seeks revenge for a friend. The scene of the funeral of Tybalt further reinforces the inevitability of the tragedy. From the scene “Meeting of Tybalt with Mercutio ” (No. 32), there comes a sharp break in the action. Prokofiev creates the image of a destructive, full of fanaticism forces. To show fight — “Tybalt fights with Mercutio” (No. 33) Prokofiev chooses the music from the room “Mercutio” (No. 15), very accurately, in terms of stage of the situation.

Without changing tone and rhythm, Prokofiev accelerates the pace and increases the intensity dynamics. The death scene of Mercutio (No. 34 — “Mercutio dies”), the first tragic climax of the ballet. Introducing a detailed death scene, which it is not Shakespeare, Prokofiev adds Mercutio tremendous dramatic force. Dance is close to the pantomime. Like the ancient tragedy, Prokofiev shows the ever-growing chain of fatal consequences of evil. In the tragic end of the second act, the sense of doom becomes irresistible. “Finale” (No. 36), depicting the procession of the body of Tybalt, written in the genre of passakalii.


All attention is focused on the fate of the two lovers. The chain of fateful events shatters their happiness. The power of rock is inevitable. But still they can’t defeat love. No. 37, “Introduction“ plays music terrible “of the order of the Duke.”

No. 38 ”the Juliet Room” – the finest techniques recreates the atmosphere of silence, the night – parting of Romeo and Juliet (flute and celesta is the theme from the wedding scene).

No. 39 “Farewell before parting” is a small duet is full of restrained tragedy, a new tune. The theme of farewell, expressing the fateful doom, and the living impulse. This is one of the most remarkable lyrical ballet themes, sublime, full of passion and gentle tenderness. Wide range of ringtone themes of love, spanning two octaves, gives the sound a sense of spaciousness, which is like the distant future, which often occur in old master paintings. Rhythmic sophistication, “game” various triads and tones emphasize the subtlest intonation curves of the topic. New topics arise in the scenes “Juliet alone” (No. 42), “Interlude” (No. 45) and “Juliet’s Funeral” (No. 51). The most unexpected and sinister option — “Interlude” (No. 45). It is a substitution lyrical themes themes of hostility, sounding before cadencing trafficking in themes of love.

At the beginning of the 7th picture in the scene “Lorenzo” (No. 44) themes of love coexisted with themes of drink and death. All means of expression in the themes of death create a state of doom: the gloomy minor key, ostinato, accompanied by a chilling rising sound minor quartzextreme (reminder about the topic rimary), but not reaching to the upper tone sadly nicoma melody of the bass.

Images of loneliness and death dominate in the 8th picture. The main theme here is the third theme of Juliet shown in various modifications. Of all the ballet Prokofiev stronger mutates it, depending on the sense stage of the situation. For example, the theme sounds like a small sorrowful Arioso — “Juliet refuses to marry Paris” (No. 41), she turns into a tragic monologue of despair “Again Juliet” (No. 46), takes on a mournful humility before Juliet drinks the drink (“Juliet alone” — No. 47), it permeates the light sensitivity of the ascension in the scene “At the bedside Juliet” (No. 50). And as the theme of rock, destroying the fragile peace life, in the stage No. 47 — theme of drink and death. Ghostly, unreal genre action in this picture. Two dances — “Morning Serenade” (No. 48) and “the Dance of the girls with lilies” (No. 49), should set off the tragedy, but like them, especially “the Dance of the girls with lilies”, is a reflection of reality. No. 50 “bed of Juliet” – starts with 4 themes Juliet (tragic). The mother and the Nurse go Wake Juliet, but she’s dead – in the highest register of the violins in a sad and weightless is 3 theme Juliet.

9 picture No. 51, “Juliet’s Funeral” – this scene opens epilogue – the wonderful music of a funeral procession. The theme of death (violins) acquires a mournful character. The appearance of Romeo accompanies 3 love theme. The Death Of Romeo. No. 52, “Death Of Juliet”. The awakening of Juliet, her death, the reconciliation of the Montagues and the Capulets. The finale of the ballet – light hymn of love, based on gradually increasing, dazzling sound 3 themes Juliet. She approaches nature with all the love themes in the ballet and becomes the apotheosis of love, break the vicious circle of fatal enmity.

3. Theme of Juliet (analysis of form, means of musical expression, methods of presentation of musical material to create an image)

Juliet – the most comprehensive and complex image of ballet, this continuous development. With all the absolute dance, it is closer to Opera heroines at the psychological complexity and development of character, showing the tiniest movements of the soul. Saturation is the psychological effect, the contrasts in the nature of the character, through movement of the image number “Juliet-girl”, you can compare with Opera scenes. Ballet for the same theatre, this type of scene was unusual, deeply innovative. The uniqueness of this image-portrait is also in the link here from different times: the present and the future. As a great psychologist Prokofiev penetrates into the mysteries of life and destiny, guessing the main stages of human life in terms of character. Creative movement is scheduled in the room “Juliet the girl” – from zerowaste to the lyrics, the lyrical depth is the basis of action in the whole picture.

In this scene, written in Rondo form, sets out three main themes of Juliet, which, developing further as lately, like the themes of love, become the basis for Symphony of the action of the ballet.

The first, C major is called the subject of Juliet girls. Its Scherzo, a light, swift movement so it seems that rolling, Bouncing Jogging quite young creature. Theme Juliet-girl acts as the refrain of No. 10, performed it many times, in different keys. In future the development of the ballet she appears rarely, as a reminder of the still very young age of the heroine. The ease and liveliness of the theme expressed in a simple gammopathy “running” melody, and that emphasizes its rhythm, intensity and movement, completes the sparkling cadence expressed related tonic triads moving down by thirds.

Second, in a-flat-major theme first heard in the introduction of ballet, has a remark “con eleganza” and other shows, adult face image of Juliet, women of the highest-born nobility. The music cosmetically elegant, graceful. The specific pause, reminiscent of the bows, the soft accompaniment of a quiet, gentle, a little lullaby shade attaches to the unity and a certain charm. In the future, in the development of ballet in a flat major topic play a significant role. It becomes a refrain, emphasizing that all events are concentrated around the image of Juliet. The elegance 2 theme transferred in the rhythm of a Gavotte (a gentle way of Juliet-girl) – clarinet sounds playfully and mockingly.

The third theme of Juliet is written in C major. C-major theme is fragility and tenderness. But on the first plan here is not movement, but the psychological state in which there is meditation, and yearning, and enthusiasm, and a tragic feeling of doom. In conclusion, there is a very definite harbinger of the death of the heroine is a tragic nicoma intonation.3 the theme reflects a subtle, clean lyricism – as the most important “facet” of her image (change the tempo, texture, timbre – flute, cello) sounds very transparent

To create an image of Juliet Prokofiev uses such means of musical expression as dynamic nuances, accents, instrumentation, different tempo tones.


Work Prokofiev continued the classical tradition of Russian ballet. This resulted in a large ethical significance of the theme chosen in the reflection of deep human feelings in a developed symphonic dramaturgy of the ballet. And yet the ballet score “Romeo and Juliet” was so unusual that it took time to “getting used” to it. There was even an ironic saying: “never was a story of more Woe, than Prokofiev’s music to the ballet”. Only gradually it was replaced by the enthusiastic attitude of the artists and the audience to the music. Unusual, above all, was the plot. The reference to Shakespeare was a courageous step of Soviet choreography, because, in General opinion, considered that the implementation of such a complex philosophical and dramatic themes it is impossible by means of the ballet. Prokofiev’s music and the performance of Lavrovsky imbued with Shakespearean spirit.


1. Katonova S. Prokofiev Ballets. M., 1982

2. . S. Patriotic music literature 1917-1985.M. 1996

3. M. Savkin Sergei Prokofiev. M., 1982

4. Tarakanov M. the Style of Prokofiev symphonies. M., 1968

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