‘Romeo & Juliet’ returns to stage

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‘Romeo & Juliet’ returns to stage


Artists of the Korea National Ballet and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra pose for a photo at a press conference yesterday at the Korea Press Center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. From left: KNB principal Lee Dong-hoon, KNB principal Kim Joo-won, maestro Chung Myung-whun, KNB Artistic Director Choi Tae-ji and former KNB principal Kim Young-gul. [YONHAP]

After Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev completed his first ballet score for “Chout” (sometimes called “The Tale of the Buffoon”) in the 1920s, he wrote that his fellow composer Igor Stravinsky called it the only piece of modern music he could listen to with pleasure and that French composer Maurice Ravel even called it a work of genius.

The inventive and dramatic music helped Prokofiev, whose role model was Tchaikovsky, build a reputation as a ballet music composer. Today, there are over 50 contemporary and modern ballets based on his creations.

French choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot’s modern rendering of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is also set to Prokofiev’s rhapsodic score.

The work will be presented by the Korea National Ballet at the Seoul Arts Center Opera House from Oct. 27 to 30. And for the first time, the ballet company will be accompanied by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Chung Myung-whun.

“I have conducted a full-length ballet only once in my life - for the Paris Opera Ballet - while serving as music director of the Bastille Opera,” Chung said at a press conference yesterday at the Korea Press Center in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. “For a conductor, holding the baton for a ballet work is less fun, to be honest. You tend to have less freedom since you are tied to the tempo of the ballet.”


The Korea National Ballet presents “Romeo and Juliet” in this promotional photo from its production in 2000. This year’s production features the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and will take place at the Seoul Arts Center Oct. 27 to 30. Provided by KNB

Choi Tae-ji, artistic director of the KNB, had pursued Chung to get him to conduct for the ballet company since 2008.

Chung told Choi that he would consider the offer only if the ballet were set to a score by either Prokofiev or Stravinsky.

Early last year, Chung finally agreed to work with the company after discovering that its performance level had improved.

“The collaboration, I hope, will elevate the overall level of performance in Korea,” Chung said.

This production of Maillot’s “Romeo and Juliet” is the KNB’s first since it brought the work here in 2000. While some of Maillot’s staff were here to help with the production in 2002, the KNB invited a team of set, lighting and costume designers from the Monte Carlo Ballet, where Maillot currently serves as artistic director, to stage this year’s production.

KNB artistic director Choi said the staging will be very minimal, while the lighting will enrich the main characters’ emotional expressions.

Returning in the lead roles of Juliet and Romeo are Kim Joo-won, a KNB principal, and Kim Young-gul, a former KNB principal and a professor at the Korea National University of Arts.

“Juliet in Maillot’s rendition of the ballet is depicted as a very strong and independent woman, not a 16-year-old girl. For this reason, I heard that Maillot initially wanted to change the title to ‘Juliet and Romeo,’” the celebrity ballerina said. “I have changed a lot over the course of eleven years. Whereas I was just a girl at the time [the ballet was first presented], now I am confident I can project the image of a mature woman.”

Said Kim Young-gul, who is the first Korean to become a soloist at the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet: “I was extremely happy that KNB is staging this piece again. For me, it was the best work of my life.”

*“Romeo and Juliet” will be presented from Oct. 27 to 30 at the Seoul Arts Center Opera House in southern Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or visit www.kballet.org.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

정명훈씨, 발레 지휘 한국 데뷔무대 “무용수들 날아다닐 수 있게 돕겠다”

“20여년 전 프랑스서 딱 한번 해본 장르” … 새로운 도전

지휘자 정명훈(58)씨가 한국에서는 처음으로 발레를 지휘한다. 정씨는 8일 국립발레단 최태지 예술감독과 함께 한 기자간담회에서 “발레 공연 지휘는 20여 년 전 프랑스 파리에서 꼭 한 번 해봤다. 지휘자에게 제약이 많은 장르라는 생각 때문이었다. 하지만 놀랍게 발전한 국립발레단의 수준을 보고 함께 하기로 결심했다”고 말했다.

 다음 달 그가 지휘하는 공연은 프로코피예프 ‘로미오와 줄리엣’. 국립발레단의 수석무용수인 김주원·김지영이 줄리엣, 이동훈과 객원무용수인 김용걸이 로미오를 맡는다.

 최태지 예술감독은 “정명훈 서울시향 예술감독과 함께 공연하고 싶어 4년 전부터 무대 뒤의 분장실을 헤매며 찾아다니기도 했다. 정 감독이 프로코피예프 혹은 스트라빈스키를 제안했다. 2000년에 국립발레단이 올렸던 ‘로미오와 줄리엣’은 음악적으로 아쉬웠던 것이 사실이다. 때문에 이번 공동 작업에 대한 기대가 크다”라고 말했다.

 이번 무대에 서울시향과 함께하는 정명훈씨는 “오케스트라에게는 오페라보다 발레 연주의 부담이 적다. 하지만 오페라와 달리 발레는 공연의 모든 소리를 우리가 책임진다. 내가 음악가 집안의 여섯째로 태어난 ‘타고난 반주자’인 만큼, 무대 위 무용수들을 날아다닐 수 있게 해주겠다”고 말했다.

‘로미오와 줄리엣’은 다음 달 27~30일 서울 서초동 예술의전당 오페라극장 무대에 오른다.
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