FEATURE: ROMEO AND JULIET
Romeo and Juliet’s Happy Ending
The 1938 World Première of Romeo and Juliet in Brno, Czechoslovakia.
Introduction to Source Documents
Extracts from Zora Semberova’s Memoirs
Reminiscences of Romeo and Juliet in Brno (Zora Semberova)
Zora Semberova: a biographical sketch
1938 Brno Scenario
Albert Coates – a Forgotten Master
Prokofiev and Albert Coates
Romeo and Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare – Alan Mercer interviews Simon Morrison and Mark Morris
Barbican Theatre, November 2008
The eventful history of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, from Prokofiev’s draft scenario of 1935 to the conflict-ridden Lavrovsky production for the Kirov Theatre in 1940 has been discussed in Three Oranges, largely based on newly assessed primary sources from Russia and elsewhere. Until now though, one essential event associated with this work has remained undocumented – the ballet’s première of December 1938 which took place in, of all places, the Moravian capital of Brno in Czechoslovakia.
This issue is dedicated to the early conceptions and to the Brno production of Romeo and Juliet, a work about which much, surprisingly, still remains to be discovered. Thanks to Simon Morrison’s determination not to leave a page of Prokofiev’s output unturned, contacts were established with the ballerina who first danced Juliet in Brno, and who now lives in Australia – Zora Semberova. Zora’s daughter, Pamela St Clair-Johnson, generously provided a wide array of documentation, which at last allows us to throw some light on the historical première of the most performed ballet of the twentieth century.
Simon Morrison discusses the so-called “happy” ending version in both a meticulously detailed article and an interview related to the 2008 production of this version by the Mark Morris Dance Group. Mark Morris also shares his thoughts on the challenge he faced in doing a radically new choreography of what has become an emblematic, and therefore seemingly untouchable ballet. The Brno production and Zora Semberova’s contribution to it are revealed through source documents and Zora’s fascinating recollections.
In line with the journal’s interest in discovering more about those among Prokofiev’s associates who played a significant role in his musical life, this issue concentrates on the charismatic, but little documented, conductor Albert Coates, with whom Prokofiev had a long-standing and eventful relationship. While David Patmore comprehensively discusses Coates’ career in the West in particular through his recordings, Fiona McKnight illustrates the two artists’ spirited relationship through their correspondence, most of which is kept at The Serge Prokofiev Archive.
Finally, a few words about Professor Simon Morrison of Princeton University, the driving force behind this issue’s Feature. Simon’s dedication to Prokofiev is by now well established, not least through his latest publication of 2008, The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years (as advertised by Oxford University Press on p. 29; please note the 20% discount for Three Oranges subscribers). There is no doubt in my mind that, to this day, this is the most significant study of Prokofiev’s Soviet works and life written in any language. It is therefore a privilege that Simon has agreed to give his time and authoritative expertise to Three Oranges in becoming its Associate Editor. I for one welcome him most warmly and look forward to a productive and long-standing collaboration.