The Real Ballet
At Bard College’s Summer Music Festival anticipation was high for the world premier of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with newly discovered music and the original “happy ending” in which the lovers elope and their feuding families reconciled. The new (old) version was choreographed by Mark Morris.
In today’s New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay doused the erotic fires with the most trenchant put-down since W.C. Fields’ interment of Philadelphia (sorry, Rocco):
Although this isn’t the worst dance “Romeo,” it may be the least sincere. Neither the characters nor their society seem organic. Since it is by Mr. Morris, it is, of course, laden with unvarying gestural motifs, several of which may be his clunkiest to date. It’s irritating when Mr. Morris repeats himself just because the music does, and it’s worse when he repeats himself and the music doesn’t.
The most attractive (though unoriginal) motif is a slow, low arabesque. But when Romeo does it five times without musical cue on the way to the Friar’s cell, you’ve already had enough. Then Juliet enters doing it three times. And they go on doing it later.
Mr. Morris’s view of characters is anti-Shakespearean. Nobody here ever changes or develops, and the lovers, whose body language is unaltered by, among other things, a night naked in bed together, continue doing the same couple-dancing motifs that their elders were doing at the start of the ballroom scene.
Meanwhile, at Wimbledon, the real ballet was taking place — reviewed enthusiastically by the Times on page one:
No man had beaten Roger Federer at Wimbledon since 2002. But in near darkness, one of the greatest tennis matches ever played concluded in the Wimbledon final Sunday with Roger Federer hitting a short forehand into the net and with a victorious Rafael Nadal flat on his back with camera flashes illuminating his drained and delighted face.