Romeo and Juliet - SND - Slovak National Theatre: February 2nd, 2018
You travel just one hour from Vienna to Bratislava by train… and all of a sudden you are not only in another country but in another world completely. I had not known the “new” Opera House (with two different stages) by the Danube. International AND VERY MODERN standards from A to Z. A beautiful House! I wish we had also something like this in Vienna!
In the year of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” 80th Anniversary, it seems like an odd casualty that during the last months I have been so often confronted with this story… A friend gave me a new DVD of Cranko’s “R & J”, I watched West Side Story in Brno’s National Theatre and by chance again “Zefirelli’s version” with Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting and the incredible Michael York, than Berlioz’ “Roméo et Juliette” in Vienna and now, in Bratislava, Prokofiev’s version… still to come, again in Brno, the celebrations of the 80th Anniversary and, God knows what else…
Natalia Horečna’s „Romeo and Juliet“ is a very special work.
To be very honest with you, I was in such a hurry travelling to Bratislava that just on the train I realized that the performance I had been invited to see was a choreography of hers, an artist which I admire a lot since watching her “Contra Clockwise Witness” with the Vienna State Ballet some years ago
Perhaps because her pieces always have "too fancy” titles, which labels them a bit too much for my taste, I had not thought about “R & J” in connection to her. I must admit that I should be ashamed of that – it should not be this way (and I normally prepare myself much more to watch a performance!) but I had to confess it… really a matter of time! On the other hand, it gave me a most welcome surprise and a pleasant evening.
Miss Horečna’s language is her own. A point that I so much admire in her work. I have been quite bored, during the last years, of watching new works that remind me of others resembling more a “collage” of different works by a number of choreographers which have been repeating themselves or other choreographer's works . Her language is unique and her line of “story-telling” quite a singular one. Also her manipulation of time, I must say, is exquisite. Sometimes not an easy task for dancers. As I have mentioned before, sometimes she labels the tittles of her works a bit too much but that is the only label about her work. I had once the privilege of meeting her just before and after a première in Vienna. A very down-to-earth person, preoccupied about her work, about her mother arriving on time for the performance, about her dancers… She does not carry herself with this “I am a contemporary dancer/choreographer” sort of attitude which is so common within some dancers in an Opera House… A natural. And so is her work.
Her new “reading” of Shakespeare’s tragedy is innovative and refreshing in its inventive way of handling facts that we have known since a long time. With the only exception of the tomb scene (after Juliet awakes from her death-like sleep) which was a bit too long and too theatrical (in the old classic way) and not danced at all, I was mostly kept under a certain level of “voltage”, paying lots of attention to the way that Miss Horečna “breaks” movements, jumps from neoclassical movements to contemporary and even very modern ones.
Costumes by Christiane Achatzi are just perfect. Simple and “up to date” to portray the characters. Special attention to Father Lorenzo’s one (a character beautifully played by Andrej Szabo - a very tall dancer!). Peter Breiner’s conducting – of one of my “alltime favourites” piece of music is excellent, precise.
Not being very familiar with the company I must point to the beautiful, very clean and precise work of some of the member of the corps-de-ballet like Diego Calderon, Damian Sinko and (tall) Sasha Mays (also another very tall one!).
Igor Leushin’s Romeo seemed a bit bored. Romeo's youth Spirit did not shine, did not cross the "fourth wall". I do believe that he still needs more experience - he is still "sort of green"
Special mention to Chelsea Andrejic as Mother Capulet – beautiful – and Ilinca Gribincea as Juliet. Both very strong presences on stage that capture your full attention immediately!
A very recommendable evening!
P.S. A point of critic: in the programme the direction of the national Theatre does not write down the complete names of its performers. They abbreviate their Christian Names. That is quite hard if you want to mention them in your review. Here a photo which I could make at the Foyer and that helped me a lot.