Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 6:36 pm | Fair 66º


Gerald Carpenter: State Street Ballet Kicks Off with ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Rodney Gustafson creates a two-act version of the score for two weekend performances at The Granada

The dazzling State Street Ballet company will begin what promises to be a spectacular season with two performances in The Granada of Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, with choreography by the maestro himself, Rodney Gustafson.

Gustafson, the artistic director, gives the production a contemporary feel without disturbing the timeless grace of Prokofiev’s music or William Shakespeare’s play. His vision employs a two-act version of the score.

Romeo and Juliet is early Shakespeare, possibly written as early as 1591 but more likely sometime in 1594-95. Only Hamlet is as well-known, and it doesn’t begin to match the number of paintings, musical scores or motion pictures based on or inspired by Romeo and Juliet. There have been, to date, at least 24 operas based on the play — and none of them, it must be noted, comes close to matching the dramatic power and emotional profundity of the original play.

Of musical compositions that are not ballets, Hector Berlioz’s symphony is the greatest work of art, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s fantasy the most popular. Prokofiev’s ballet is not only far and away the best dance treatment of the story, but it’s one of the very greatest ballets ever written. For all its romantic moments and flights of lyricism, the score is unmistakably of the 20th century and is utterly “modern” music.

Even the love scenes, as poignant and heartbreaking as they are, tend to remind us of the transitory nature of youthful passion, not to mention youth itself — yet how much sweeter each moment seems, knowing that it will soon end.

Any of us can go out and buy a recording of Prokoviev’s music and listen to it as often as we wish. Chances to see the ballet performed, and by so great a company as State Street, are not to be missed. Life is too short.

Performances of Romeo and Juliet will be at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $28 to $53 and can be purchased from The Granada box office, 1214 State St., or 805.899.2222. Click here to order online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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