In 1983, Rudolf Nureyev's version of Romeo and Juliet was filmed in Milan, and broadcast in Italy and in Britain on Boxing day of the same year. It stars Carla Fracci as his Juliet and the extraordinary participation of Margot Fonteyn as Lady Capulet.
This cameo is rather like another wonderful homage by Nureyev when in his Paris Raymonda, with Noella Pontois, the great Yvette Chauviré made a stage comeback. This production was also broadcast in 1983.
In both ballets Nureyev, at 45, struggles to execute his own fiendishly difficult steps. Incredibly Carla Fracci was 47 when this Juliet was filmed. Noella Pontois was just a slip of a girl at 40.
Recording of the ballets have been circulating for almost thirty years, copied from early video cassettes. Neither have been issued on DVD or retransmitted, which in both cases is a great shame for balletomanes the world over.
The quality of the Romeo and Juliet video is particularly bad, but now on YouTube a colour corrected and brighter series of extracts from the ballet can be seen. Enjoy…
Playlist (8 extracts)
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.