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San Francisco Ballet - Romeo and Juliet

by Joanna G. Harris
March 6, 2012
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 861-5600
Joanna G. Harris
Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
The San Francisco Ballet, as with many companies today, are performing 'story ballets' because, one, audiences love them, two, audiences buy tickets to them thereby increasing revenue and three, the artists know the roles and get better each year the works are offered. All good reasons to bring back, after just two years, Helgi Tomasson's Romeo and Juliet.

This year's production seemed simpler, clearer and swifter. I was privileged to see a cast that included Maria Kochetkova as Juliet, Joan Boada as Romeo and Gennadi Nedvigin as Mercutio. Kocketkova and Boada are very suited physically; both are short, slim and have dark hair…ideal Veronese teenagers. Kochetkova's size made it look easy for Boada to lift her although many of the lifts in their duets looking impossibly difficult to execute. These two principal dancers also showed the dramatic abilities so essential to this classical work.

Nedvigin as Mercutio was delightfully funny when appropriate and pathetically wounded in his death scene. Each of his appearances, in the ballroom interacting with Daniel Deivison-Oliveira as Tybalt and Val Caniparoli as Lord Capulet helped to further the essential through-line of this drama…the feud between the Capulets and Montagues.

Other well-played roles were given by Anita Paciotti as Juliet's nurse and Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun as Rosaline. She, as Rosaline, an earlier love object of Romeo, was wonderfully entertained by Nedvigin, making that sub-text clearer than it had been before.

The acrobats, Danielle Santos, Benjamin and Matthew Stewart were delightful, although the street fighting, though well executed, did go on too long. Courtney Elizabeth and Shannon Roberts provided a sexy alternative to the fighting, fencing and religious subtext.

All the visual design seemed updated in this 1994 production designed by the late Jens-Jacob Worsaae. Martin West conducted the well-loved Prokofiev score and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra with brilliant aplomb.
San Francisco Ballet's Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Helgi Tomasson's 'Romeo and Juliet'

San Francisco Ballet's Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada in Helgi Tomasson's "Romeo and Juliet"

Photo © & courtesy of Erik Tomasson

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