Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet made a comeback at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House last night, buoyed by a vivid and sensitive performance of the Prokofiev score by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, under the electrifying baton of Martin West.
Long stretches of unmemorable choreography, at times deaf to the emotional swells of Prokofiev, were punctuated by brilliant outbursts from the exceptional supporting cast – notably Sofiane Sylve as a very complicated Lady Capulet, Anthony Vincent as the cruel and imposing Tybalt, Hansuke Yamamoto and Taras Domitro as Romeo’s wing men, and Dores André and Dana Genshaft as the lusty Harlots.
In some critical scenes, Tomasson’s storytelling shone. (Ballet to the People is partial, though, to Leonid Lavrovsky’s ending in which he depicts the reconciliation of the two families after the tragic double suicide: a vote for humanity.)
Sarah Van Patten grew into the role of Juliet by Act III. In Juliet’s struggle with her parents, who are determined to marry her off to the wealthy, aristocratic Paris, she conveys the fragility of Juliet as well as her heroic determination.
Carlos Quenedit plays the dashing, ardent Romeo with the perfect blend of nobility and abandon. His turning jumps with one leg whipped out of the hip like a brandished sword were particularly spectacular.
Hansuke Yamamoto made an audacious Benvolio, sailing through the air as he circled the stage with a series of turning leaps that seemed natural and unforced in their elevation.
Heart-throb Taras Domitro as the cavalier Mercutio tossed off his technical challenges with ease. But he is given a kitchen sink of emotions to portray during his death scene, which register as a somewhat incoherent slapstick muddle.
San Francisco Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet continues through May 10, 2015. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.