Romeo and Juliet – Royal New Zealand Ballet’s biggest production of the year
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, Restoration) has its world premiere in Wellington on 16 August.
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 RNZB’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 NZSO 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, is honoured to create his second full-length ballet for the RNZB and New Zealand
“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 RNZB, who I’d like to thank for their incredible work.”
“James Acheson’s magnificent sets make me feel right at home, like 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, Francesco 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
RNZB’s critically acclaimed A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Frederic Jahn returns to New Zealand to join the team as Guest Ballet Master. Frederic, who grew up in Dunedin and danced with the RNZB in 1965-68 before dancing internationally, also happens to have been Francesco’s first ballet
master when Francesco was a young dancer at La Scala.
Patricia Barker, the RNZB’s newly appointed Artistic Director says: “It’s a very exciting time to have joined the RNZB –
this production promises to be exquisite while it transports us to the heart of Verona. The energy in the studio is
captivating. I have enjoyed getting to know the RNZB dancersand I’m looking forward to seeing them inhabit these iconic
It’s been over a decade since the RNZB created a new version of Romeo and Juliet. Work began on this production in October 2016 and it will be the RNZB’s biggest production of 2017 with 13 scene
changes and over 90 costumes.
“We’re delighted to be able to support the RNZB’s production of Romeo and Juliet. We think our residents – and the rest
of New Zealand - are in for a real treat,’’ Ryman Healthcare Chief Executive Gordon MacLeod said.
The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo and Juliet performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet
16 August – 24 September touring to Wellington (with Orchestra Wellington), Christchurch (with the Christchurch Symphony
Orchestra), Auckland (with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra), Rotorua, Dunedin (with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra),
Invercargill, Palmerston North, and Napier.