Premiere of K. Pastor‘s “Romeo and Juliet” at the LNOBT: Love Surrounded by Contemporary Conflicts

On 28 October Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre is about to unveil its first premiere of the season – Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “Romeo and Juliet”, choreographed by the LNOBT ballet company’s artistic director Krzysztof Pastor. Other members of the creative team include music director and conductor Modestas Pitrėnas, conductor Modestas Barkauskas, set and costume designer Tatyana van Walsum (the Netherlands), video and lighting designers Bert Dalhuysen (the Netherlands) and Wijnand van der Horst (the Netherlands).

During the press conference “Romeo and Juliet” was presented by its creators and LNOBT’s general manager Gintautas Kėvišas. According to him, this new production shall be very different from other versions of the work that were staged at the LNOBT (in 1977 and 1993). Moreover, “Krzysztof Pastor’s production already has an impressive path: it was presented in Edinburgh (2008), Warsaw, Chicago, and now it comes to Vilnius. Our theatre is proud to be a part of this international journey. Prokofiev’s score is one of the most beautiful ever written for ballet, and thus we think that “Romeo and Juliet” is a mandatory piece on theatre’s repertoire”. G. Kėvišas also added that there is an agreement between him and Mr. Pastor that he will produce new ballet for LNOBT every two years – and so, choreographer’s new works are already planned for 2018 and 2020.

According to Krzysztof Pastor, he was mostly inspired by Prokofiev’s music and, of course, Shakespeare’s text, which also suggested to add some political tint to this famous love story. “Shakespeare’s works deal with very difficult issues, political ones among others. Together with Willem Bruls we wanted to bring this story closer to our days and to showcase that it oversteps the boundaries of different epochs. The situations that Romeo and Juliet face can be happening at all times, and we see lots of such situations today. I know of a meeting of real-life lovers on a bridge in Sarajevo: an Orthodox woman and a Muslim man. They were killed by snipers. It’s a true story. And the story of Romeo and Juliet is eternal”.

In this version of “Romeo and Juliet” the storyline written by Shakespeare is shifted from the Renaissance to Rome in the 20th century – we see the stark image of E.U.R., built by Benito Mussolini.

Set and costume designer Tatyana van Walsum revealed that the production will be set in three periods of time – 1930s, 1950s and 1990s. “The main element of the set is a picture that I took in Rome. We use the projection of a black and white version of the photograph during the first act, seeking to create the colour scale of the Italian fascist time. The second act displays 1950s with its colourful life, cars, motorcycles – it shows the optimism of the post-war era. The last act is lit with a blue light, which looks like a TV screen and resembles the colours of our everyday life. Costumes, on the other hand, reflect personal qualities of the characters, rather than historical times”.

K. Pastor also revealed that during the creative process of his new work he approached the Sergei Prokofiev Fund and made some corrections to the score with the approval of composer’s grandson Gabriel Prokofiev, who himself writes music.

“Romeo and Juliet” will be performed by several different casts. On 28 October the we shall see Kristina Gudžiūnaitė (Juliet), Ghenadz Zhukovsky (Romeo), Andrius Žužžalkinas (Merkutio), Mantas Daraškevičius (Tybalt), Martynas Rimeikis (Capulet, Juliet’s father), Olga Konošenko (Juliet’s mother), Voicechas Žuromskas (Benvolio), Eligijus Butkus (Friar Lawrence), Jeronimas Krivickas (Paris), Maja Dolidzė and Gohar Mkrtchyan (Juliet’s friends). On 29 October - Anastasija Čumakova (Juliet), Romas Ceizaris (Romeo), Voicechas Žuromskas (Merkutio), Stanislavas Semianiura (Tybalt), Ernestas Barčaitis (Capulet), Rūta Lataitė (Juliet’s mother), Kipras Chlebinskas (Benvolio), Igoris Zaripovas (Friar Lawrence), J. Krivickas (Paris), M. Dolidzė and Haruka Ohno (Juliet’s friends).

In tune with the new premiere, on 28 October LNOBT will also host the XI International Conference of Opera Critics (beginning 10 a.m. in the Red Foyer), which will this time also discuss ballet and Shakespeare.