December 15, 2009 at 9:35 pm (Ballet, Music, Performing arts, Russophilia)

Here is a 42-second video clip that threw me back in my chair, gasping in amazement:

This is the great Alexander Godunov as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (Bolshoi, 1979). First, there is the arrogance, the smug heedlessness, of pure evil; then, the death agony. Watching this – over and over again – I am not only astonished but also downright frightened. Such is the intensity of this performance.

As an artist, Alexander Godunov embodies the idea of the flame that burns too brightly and must, inevitably, consume itself. We can only be grateful for the brilliant legacy he has left to the world of dance. (Additional videos featuring Godunov can be found on YouTube.)

Here is another clip of a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Bolshoi.

Alexandr Tetrov is  wonderful as Tybalt, but Vladimir Derevianko pretty much steals the show as Mercutio. I can’t take my eyes off his legs – he becomes effortlessly airborne, then whirls like a top. Later, he turns around and taunts Tybalt – one is filled with dread, knowing what will happen next. I confess, I have never watched this video through to the end. I can’t bear the thought of losing Mercutio, the mercurial sprite so cunning and so free.


Sergei Prokofiev is a composer that Ron and I both love. He wrote much great music; for us, Romeo and Juliet is his masterpiece.

Sergei Sergeevich Prokofiev: 1891 - 1953

Russians really connect with the heightened passion that informs Shakespeare’s play. They have taken this timeless, turbulent tale of  love in adversity and through the magic of music and dance, made it their own.

[Valery Gergiev conducts the London Symphony in November 2008.]

1 Comment

  1. Ballet at (the new and improved) Lincoln Center, where even the fountain dances! « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] by Alexei Ratmansky. I was  especially delighted to be seeing this,, because I love the music of Prokofiev, and I was keen to see something of the work of Ratmansky, formerly of the Bolshoi and now artist […]

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