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Bayerisches Staatsballett: Romeo and Juliet by John Cranko

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

Sabine has attended the Romeo and Juliet in Munich and shares her impressions:

Recently I’ve had a pleasure to see John Cranko's "Romeo and Juliet" in Munich. Main cast was: Maria Baranova, Jinhao Zhang as Romeo and Juliet, Shale Wagman (Mercutio), Robin Strona (Tybalt), Yago Gonzaga (Benvolio).

It was the third and the last Romeo and Juliet performances this year (it will be up again next year). The orchestra was fabulous. I was sitting in the first row, where the sound can be a bit strenuous, but it wasn't the case and I thoroughly enjoyed the music, the sensitive and passionate conductor was Robertas Šervenikas.

Personally I was very touched by Maria Baranova's Juliet. She really captivated the character, and especially in the III act won me totally over. Her dancing and acting was just heartbreaking. And the impact it had on herself was obvious in the first curtain call for the main characters only, on the dark stage. She was totally immersed in the role and couldn't let go. Jinhao supported her and for the curtain call with the entire cast, she was more back to life then.

As for Jinhao Zhang, he was a reliable and strong partner, I just missed a bit a more diverse facial expression.

Robin Strona's debut was a strong and irreconcilable Tybalt. Yago Gonzaga was a Benvolio I almost didn't notice, as he was very laid back in a way in his debut that night. It looked to me as if there hadn't been enough rehearsals with the props for this cast. For example, at some point, the cape got stuck on Shale's Wagman's foot. With such a lot of debuts (8 in total), not enough rehearsals with props is a very risky thing to do, in my opinion.

Shale Wagman's debut as Mercutio was... well Mercury Wagman. A role, as if it was made to be danced by him. Mischevious, flirty, fierce in sword fighting and heartbreaking and convincing in the death scene. Again, the phenomenon happened: as soon as he entered a stage, all eyes were on him. I spoke with other people so it's not just me who marveled about him.

Shale Wagman really owns this role. And the audience around me and friends who sat on 3rd tier gasped and laughed and clapped. Although in Munich, it always takes the audience some time to know when applause is appropriate.

Also, I want to mention Séverine Ferrolier who was a heartbreaking Countess Capulet. Her desperation about Tybalt's death was palpable and so convincing it hurt in my own heart.

It was a very joyful evening, Cranko's Romeo and Juliet is just a brilliant ballet. The music always grasps my heart from the first note, the costumes (Jürgen Rose, the master) were just beautiful, and the story is timeless. If you want your child or friend to fall in love with ballet, or performing in general, then take them to this ballet.

Photos: Katja Lotter, Luca Vantusso, Bayerisches Staatsballett

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