BY DAVID MARLOWE
Romeo and Juliet will be the final offering of Colorado Ballet this season. Casting changes were made at almost the last minute.
Publicist Katrina Tamminga told LIFE that principals Maria Mosina, Sharon Wehner and Corps de Ballet member Caitlin Valentine-Ellis will share the role of Juliet, while principals Alexei Tyukov, Dmitri, Trubchanov and soloist Viacheslav Buchkovskiy will portray Romeo.
Principals Igor Vassine and Maria Mosina were originally announced for the title roles, but Vassine is recovering from knee surgery and a foot injury.
The show promises to be an exceptionally beautiful evening of dance. A live orchestra will accompany the production.
Artistic director Gil Boggs said, “There should be no ballet without live music. There will be fifty musicians in the pit, and the conductor will be Adam Flatt.”
For this the Denver audience owes Boggs a huge debt of gratitude. There is nothing as annoying as the crackling of static on antique vinyl or the skipping repetition of a faulty CD when one is being transported by the grace and power of classical ballet.
Boggs said, “What sets this ballet apart from others is the challenge of matching the choreography with the passionate score by Prokofiev. Right from the curtain at the top of the show, the fight between the two families builds and allows for an overriding arching intensity.”
In answer to a question about what he felt were the company’s strengths, Boggs said, “All of our dancers are adept in the technical aspects of ballet. They are also skilled in portraying characters in such a way that their souls are laid bare. In the case of artists such as Maria Mosina one sometimes has to rein her in a bit. She has such a lot to give. The whole company has a passion for their artistry and it’s thrilling to see how the audience responds.”
With regard to the look of the production the artistic director had this to say: “The sets are very large and very grand, from the street scenes in Verona to the Capulet’s ballroom to the tomb. The costume design is slightly post-Elizabethan in appearance with lots of opulent capes with burnished earth tones. There are virgin white costumes for the lovers and of course Tybalt’s all dressed in red.”
When I asked if there were any comical stories about ballet in the vein of those about operatic Toscas who bounced back up over the ramparts, Boggs said there were. He cited one opening of the American Ballet Theatre where a diva was discovered in her dressing room at five minutes to curtain without costume, make-up or coiffure. All of this was corrected in short order and followed by one of the most passionate dance performances one could imagine.
Boggs said, “There was also that year between (Martin) Fredmann and myself in the role of artistic director. It was the first year of the Ellie (Caulkins Opera House) and a bear fell into the pit. He had a few bumps and bruises, but nothing career-threatening. I nixed the bear the following season and the conductor had a sign made for the pit with the silhouette of a red bear with a line through it.”
I told Boggs I did not want to tell anyone connected with a dance troupe to “break a leg.” He laughed and said, “Just say what the French say: ‘Merde.’”
Romeo and Juliet will run at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House Feb. 25 through March 6. For tickets call 303-837-8888 or go online to coloradoballet.org.
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