The Story of Romeo & Juliet

Act I

Scene I: A Public Square
Verona’s main piazza comes alive with merchants and townspeople including members of the Montague and Capulet families, who have been involved in a feud of longstanding. Among the crowd are Romeo, son of Montague, futilely pursuing the fair Rosaline; Mercutio and Benvolio, friends of Romeo; and Tybalt, nephew of Capulet. A fight erupts between friends and members of the two houses, and only an order by the Prince of Verona restores the peace.

“Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new
Where civil blood makes civil hands

Scenes II–V: The House of Capulet
Juliet, the young daughter of Capulet, is in a frolicsome mood with her Nurse until Lord and Lady Capulet arrive with Paris, a Count, who asks the reluctant girl for her hand in marriage. That evening, Juliet attends a ball given by her parents. Among the guests is the uninvited Romeo. Juliet and Romeo discover each other, and there is an instant attraction.

“My only love, sprung from my only
Too early seen unknown, and known
too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me
That I must love a loathed enemy.”

Scene VI: The Balcony
A restless Juliet wanders out onto her balcony. To her unexpected delight, Romeo appears below. They declare their love for each other in a romantic pas de deux.

“With love’s light wings did I o’erperch
these walls;
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love
Therefore thy kinsmen are no let to

Act 2

Scene I: A Public Square
Juliet’s Nurse comes in search of Romeo with a note from his beloved. He is to meet her at the chapel of Friar Laurence, who will perform the wedding ceremony.

“Then plainly know my heart’s dear love
is set
On the fair daughter of rich Capulet;
As mine on hers, so hers is set on

Scene II: Friar Laurence’s Chapel
Romeo and Juliet are married in secret by Friar Laurence.

“So smile the heavens upon this holy

Scene III: A Public Square
Tybalt emerges from the crowd and draws his sword at Mercutio, who retaliates. Romeo tries to put a halt to their swordplay. But a duel ensues, and Tybalt kills Mercutio. An enraged Romeo exacts revenge for his friends’s death, fatally stabbing Tybalt. The Prince forever banishes Romeo from Verona.

“And if we meet, we shall not scape
a brawl,
For now, these hot days, is the mad
blood stirring.”

Act 3

Scene I: Juliet’s Bedroom
The newlyweds awaken and express their love and their fears in a passionate pas de deux. Romeo takes his leave. The Capulets arrive with Paris, and Juliet informs them that she will not marry him. Juliet’s parents threaten to disown her.

“More light and light—more dark and
dark our woes!”

Scene II: Friar Laurence’s Chapel
A distraught Juliet implores Friar Laurence to help her. He gives her a potion to drink that will induce a sleep so deep, she will appear to be dead. But Friar Laurence will get word to Romeo that Juliet is very much alive. Romeo will come for her, and the couple will flee Verona together.

“Come weep with me—past hope,
past cure, past help!”

Scene III: Juliet’s Bedroom
Juliet agrees to marry Paris. Later that night she drinks the potion. In the morning, Juliet’s friends arrive to celebrate her wedding. But no one can arouse her from her sleep, and all believe she is dead.

“What if this mixture do not work at all?
Shall I be married then tomorrow

Scene IV: Outside Verona
As word of Juliet’s death begins to spread, Friar Laurence dispatches a messenger to Romeo with the news that Juliet is, in fact, alive. But word fails to reach him, and Romeo decides to return to Verona to die beside his beloved.

“How fares my Juliet?”

Scene V: The Capulet Tomb
Juliet is buried. After the mourners have gone Romeo enters the crypt and finds Paris already there. The two men fight, and Paris is mortally wounded. Romeo then drinks poison and dies. Juliet awakens from her sleep and discovers Romeo’s body. She stabs herself, and joins Romeo in death.

“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Approximate program length: 2 hours, 40 minutes.

Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson

2016 Nutcracker Pre-Sale
San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson's Nutcracker. (© Erik Tomasson)

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