*Classical ballets have evolved over time, lending themselves to different interpretations as choreographers and directors create works that reflect their visions of the story. The following is intended to provide general information; for details on different versions, click on each of the Romeo and Juliet performances below.
PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS IN ROMEO AND JULIET (in alphabetical order)
Benvolio: Cousin & best friend to Romeo
Count Paris (of the house of Verona): Pursuer of Juliet
Juliet: Lover of Romeo, Daughter of Lord & Lady Capulet
Friar Lawrence: Adviser to Romeo
Lord & Lady Capulet: Parents to Juliet
Lord & Lady Montague: Parents to Romeo
Mercutio (of the house of Verona): Close friend to Romeo, Cousin of Count Paris
Nurse: Personal attendant to Juliet
Romeo: Lover of Juliet, Son of Lord & Lady Montague
Rosaline (of the house of Capulet): First love interest of Romeo
Tybalt: Cousin of Juliet
ROMEO AND JULIET SYNOPSIS
⊙ ACT I, SCENE 1: THE STREETS OF VERONA
There is a quarrel between the servants of the two powerful houses in Verona – the Capulets and the Montagues. This results in a fight which is assuaged by the Duke.
⊙ ACT I, SCENE 2: THE CAPULET HOUSE
The Capulets host a ball to which Count Paris is invited with the hopes of winning Juliet’s hand. Romeo, who suffers from a depression caused by his unrequited love for Rosaline, is persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio to sneak into the ball as masked visitors; he instantly forgets all about Rosaline as soon as he lays eyes on Juliet. This love is mutual but must be kept under wraps due to the feuding families from which they are born into. Tybalt, though, discovers the truth which leads him to want to fight Romeo; but the latter wants only peace between members of what he is believes to be future family.
After all guests have left the party, Romeo calls for Juliet from her balcony window, the two professing their love for each other.
⊙ ACT II, SCENE 1: AT FRIAR LAWRENCE'S
Romeo and Juliet have made plans to secretly marry at Friar Laurence’s with Nurse being the communicator that connects all parties.
⊙ ACT II, SCENE 2: THE STREETS OF VERONA
In the midst of some of the town’s regular festivities, Mercutio appears ready to duel Tybalt on Romeo’s behalf. He dies when Romeo tries to break up the fight which leads to an overwhelming grief and guilt that consumes the wannabe peace maker. His feelings swell to the point of confrontation with Tybalt and results in him killing Juliet’s cousin and being exiled from Verona.
⊙ ACT III, SCENE 1: JULIET'S BEDROOM
The lovers consummate their marriage and pain at their needing to separate before the sun comes up.
Meanwhile, Lord Capulet has agreed to marry Juliet to Count Paris. Juliet refuses to do so and tries to compromise, asking for a delay in the wedding date. Her parents refuse and Juliet’s desperation causes her to take desperate measures; even Nurse cannot console her.
⊙ ACT III, SCENE 2: AT FRIAR LAWRENCE'S
Juliet pleads help from Friar Lawrence who gives her potion that will put her in a deathlike coma for a couple of days. The Friar promises to send message of the plan to Romeo.
⊙ ACT III, SCENE 3: JULIET'S BEDROOM
Juliet drinks the poison. Upon her inability to be woken by her visiting friends, the family mourns the loss of her.
⊙ ACT IV: THE TOMB
Friar Lawrence’s message does not reach Romeo in time, thus Romeo believes that his beloved is indeed dead just as everyone else does. After the processional at her tomb, Romeo poisons himself to be with Juliet and dies by her side. Upon awakening from her false death, Juliet is overjoyed by seeing Romeo next to her. Her happiness is short-lived, though, when she discovers that he has killed himself. She in turn stabs herself with his dagger.
★ INTERESTING FACT ★ Galina Ulanova, the Kirov’s first Juliet in 1940, also appeared on the silver screen version of ROMEO and JULIET. The stage production won the Stalin Prize and the 1953 screening won Best Lyrical Film (and nominated as Palme d’Or) at the Cannes Film Festival that year.