First visit from top ballet

The Russian Classical Ballet of Moscow, preparing to visit Greece for the first time, will present four performances of «Romeo and Juliet» over two days at the Pallas Theater in Athens this Saturday and Sunday. Sergei Prokofiev’s music for the ballet will accompany choreographer Leonid Lavrovsky’s 40-member team of gifted dancers, featuring Kristina Kretova as the prima ballerina, and Sergey Smirnov and Michail Martinuk as the premier dancers. The production’s soloists, all graduates of major ballet academies in Moscow and St Petersburg, are returning to Athens for the first time since performing «Sleeping Beauty» at the Pallas Theater one year ago. The Russian Classical Ballet of Moscow, whose repertoire includes all the classics as well as other productions, has toured with great success in a host of countries, including Japan, Spain, Austria, and Finland. Following next weekend’s four performances in Athens, the Russian ballet is scheduled to perform in South Korea and the USA. It recently completed a series of shows in China, as part of the lead-up to this summer’s Beijing Olympics. Prokofiev’s «Romeo and Juliet» was thought to have been composed in 1935 or 1936 on commission by the Kirov Ballet. The original version had a happy ending but was never staged. Suites of the ballet music were heard in Moscow and the United States, but the full ballet premiered in Brno in what was then Czechoslovakia in December 1938. Its major moment of recognition, however, arrived a little over a year later, in January 1940, at the Kirov Theater in Leningrad, with choreography by Leonid Lavrosky. Better known today in this significantly revised version, it had not received Prokofiev’s approval. Interestingly, the original Prokofiev score, as the composer intended, will have its world premiere this July at Bard College in New York – with the blessing of the Prokofiev family and permission from the Russian State Archive – before embarking on a two-year world tour. Mark Morris will direct. Saturday and Sunday, Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou, Syntagma, Athens. Two performances daily (4.30 p.m. and 9 p.m.). Tickets at the venue’s box office (tel 210.321.3100), Fnac, The Mall, Maroussi. For credit card orders: ELVA, 210.672.8080; (tel 210.810.8181).