Podcast: Every step of the play. Prokofiev’s score for the ballet Romeo and Juliet.
March 16, 2018
As was often the case, bringing performances of classical music to fruition in Russia’s Soviet era was more challenging than the actual composition. Responding to a commission from the Bolshoi Ballet in 1935, Prokofiev quickly completed the task of writing a score for Romeo and Juliet, but the first performance had to be postponed owing to dark political moves (many staff at the Bolshoi were removed from their posts; some were shot); the public subsequently had to make do with suites from the score; and it wasn’t until 1938 that the premiere took place, in Brno (now in the Czech Republic), which Prokofiev was unable to attend because of travel restrictions imposed on him. Despite such a tangle of knots, Prokofiev managed to produce a score that conductor Marin Alsop has long admired for “his ingenious thematic invention and his passionate portrayal of this profoundly timeless story that make this score stand out in the firmament.” Raymond Bisha introduces her recent recording of the work.