Prokofjevs Romeo & Julie

Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare from 1595 is one of the most famous works in the world. The portrait of the young and infatuated couple’s fight for their love has for 400 years inspired countless artists within literature, art, music, movies, dance and so on.

Text: Marie Søndergaard

The program of the concert the 23rd of September with NOSO Symphony Orchestra and the musicians from Forsvarets Musikkoprs Nord Norge was selected music from the Ballet “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergey Prokofiev. Ordered in 1935 by the Kirov-Ballet, Prokofiev composed the music as a whole-night performance. In order to give the music an Italian feeling, Prokofjev decided to expand the normal setting of the symphony orchestra with cornet, tenorsaxophone, two harps and two mandolins.

Today this ballet suite is one of the most played and enjoyed ballets in the world. It might be because the music takes the listener through all aspects of each instrument, from the tuba and contra bass beautiful deep sound to the highest of the piccolo and even the violins that absolutely plays on the outer strings. Furthermore, it takes the listener through the emotional spectra as well. Everyone knows the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet, and this music manages to add the atmosphere so even without the play in front of you; you still have the play in your head.

Unfortunately NOSO and the musicians from Forsvarets Musikkorps Nord Norge did not play at a professional standard this evening. Despite of the standing applause from the audience after the concert, they did not manage to reach the high level of musicality as seen before. The orchestra had tuning problems through the whole concert and they were out of synch several times. The ballet is a big chamber musical work, were the phrases are constantly changing between all the different instruments. The musicians failed to listen to each other, which resulted in a lack of connection between all the musical lines. Instead of hearing an orchestra the concert was a presentation of individual interpretations of certain phrases.

Taking the musical critique aside the audience was more than happy with the performance, which the standing applause was the evidence of. They enjoyed the experience they had that night. However, this raises the question whether the audience no longer engages with the orchestra requiring the highest quality of the performances since they were satisfied with NOSO’s interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet”.