All-new Romeo and Juliet dances into town

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo and Juliet
New Zealand Ballet
Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra​​​​​​​
National tour August 16-September 24

Shakespeare’s greatest love story, Romeo and Juliet, will be brought to life next month by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, in the company’s most epic production of 2017. 

Newly choreographed, this three-act ballet by Francesco Ventriglia, with set and costume design by three-time Oscar-winning designer James Acheson (Dangerous Liaisons, The Last Emperor and Restoration) has its world premiere in Wellington on August 16.

Some 22 performances of this captivating story will be performed by the national ballet company, which will tour to eight centres. The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo and Juliet is the ballet company's third and final touring production of the year.  Orchestras in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland and Dunedin will perform Prokofiev’s instantly recognisable score, conducted by NZ Symphony Orchestra associate conductor Hamish McKeich. 

Francesco Ventriglia, who has choreographed 23 works for ballet companies around the world including La Scala, the Bolshoi Theatre and American Ballet Theatre, and was nominated for the Golden Lion for a work he created for the dance component of the Venice Biennale, says he is honoured to create his second full-length ballet for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and New Zealand audiences. 

“To create a brand new classical ballet of one of the greatest stories and the most beautiful scores is so invigorating. I’m taking great care to respect Shakespeare and Prokofiev’s great works plus drawing inspiration from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 multi-Academy Award winning film. I’m also working with a dream team of collaborators and the very talented artists of the ballet company, who I’d like to thank for their incredible work.” 

“James Acheson’s magnificent sets make me feel right at home, as if I’m in Verona in the height of an Italian summer. All of the costumes are exquisite. We have been very true to the Renaissance period and I know audiences will also be transported to the time and place where our star-crossed lovers meet.” 

To stay true to the famous story, Mr Ventriglia has invited Italian editor and dramaturg Mario Mattia Giorgetti to join the creative team, alongside choreographic assistant Gillian Whittingham who worked very closely with Liam Scarlett on the ballet company's critically acclaimed A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Frederic Jahn returns to New Zealand to join the team as guest ballet master.  Mr Jahn, who grew up in Dunedin and danced with the ballet company in 1965-68 before dancing internationally, also happens to have been Mr Ventriglia's first ballet master when he was a young dancer at La Scala. 

It has been over a decade since the ballet company created a new version of Romeo and Juliet. Work began on this production in October 2016 and it will be its biggest production of 2017, with 13 scene changes and more than 90 costumes.