Roméo et Juliette

The action takes place in the here and now.

Part I

Introduction (ballet)

The two “groups” – the ruling Capulets and the Montagues whom they rule – confront each other. The tension between these two groups is palpable.Under the leadership of Tybalt, a number of guards from the ranks of the Capulets are able to pacify the crowd, although the conflicts continue unabated.

Prologue (ballet with small chorus)

The chorus appears, and in the manner of ancient Greek tragedy they stand among the hostile parties and comment on the events as they unfold. At the end of the scene, Romeo and Juliet see each other for the first time. While Romeo is immediately fascinated by Juliet, Benvolio and Mercutio try to distract his attention. Romeo and Juliet, however, are already on their journey into the labyrinth of love.

Strophes (ballet, mezzosoprano, small chorus)

Juliet’s nurse sings a song of praise to the magic of young love (“Premier amour! N’êtes vous pas plus haut que toute poésie? – First love, are you not greater than any poetry?”), while Juliet feels the rising warmth of her emotion in her innermost being. A series of pas de deux symbolises youthful longing – and Romeo and Juliet join in the dance.

Scherzetto (ballet, tenor, small chorus)

In the form of a vision, symbolised by a luxurious coat, Queen Mab (the “queen of the irrational”) shows Mercutio the world of riches, and then abruptly brings him back to reality, thus increasing his feelings of frustration.

Roméo seul – Tristesse – Bruit lointain de bal et de concert – Grande Fête chez Capulet (ballet)

In an extended solo, Romeo expresses his feelings for Juliet. Benvolio and Mercutio distract him from his melancholy mood and persuade him to go with them to the great masked ball which is being held by the Capulets. When they enter the ballroom, disguised in masks, Tybalt is dancing with Juliet and the guests. Mercutio provokes Tybalt, and when Romeo comes between them and attempts to dance with Juliet, Tybalt challenges Mercutio to a duel. Mercutio and Benvolio, accompanied by Romeo, quickly leave the ball.

Scène d’amour (ballet, small chorus)

Romeo waits until the other guests have also left the ball and Juliet is alone. In the solitude of the garden, they find each other and their mutual longing is fulfilled.

La Reine Mab, ou la Fée des Songes (ballet)

Queen Mab – supported by her retinue – further increases the hostility between the two groups. Romeo does not want to fight against Tybalt, but he kills him after Tybalt has murdered Mercutio. Juliet asks Pater Lorenzo for advice on how to escape from what has now become an impossible situation, so that she can live together with Romeo. As Pater Lorenzo hands Juliet the potion that will cause her to appear dead, the curtain falls.

Part II

A little later

Convoi funèbre de Juliette (ballet, large chorus)

The body of Juliet is brought onto the stage in a funeral procession, and rose petals are scattered over it. Benvolio observes what is happening and runs off to tell Romeo. Aghast, Romeo and Benvolio go to see for themselves that Juliet is dead.

Roméo au tombeau des Capulets (ballet)

In despair, Romeo keeps watch at his beloved’s grave. After the mourning party has departed, he embraces her body. Shocked by its coldness, he takes poison. But Juliet, who (as agreed with Pater Lorenzo) is only pretending to be dead, wakes up and is forced with horror to realise Romeo’s mistake and the situation that has now come about. The lovers have only a few moments before the power-ful poison takes effect and Romeo dies in Juliet’s arms. She too has now lost all strength to live, and follows Romeo in death.

Final (ballet, bass baritone, large chorus)

The hostile parties of the Montagues and Capulets look in shock on the bodies of the dead couple. Pater Lorenzo arrives and explains what has happened: Romeo and Juliet had been married by him, and he had then advised Juliet to pretend to be dead, so that the two lovers could go far away and lead a new and happy life in peace. He had wanted to tell Romeo about the plan, but Romeo had gone into hiding and Pater Lorenzo had not been able to find him in time; Benvolio had been quicker. In light of the tragedy before them, Pater Lorenzo pleads with the two groups to give up their enmity, but under the continuing influence of Queen Mab and her retinue he is unsuccessful. Although reason seems to prevail and all those involved form themselves into a common social group, Queen Mab continues to hold sway. Under the surface, it remains open whether the forces of good or the forces of evil will gain the upper hand.