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For Francesco Ventriglia's farewell performance as artistic director, the RNZB presents his version of the world's greatest, albeit doomed, love story: Romeo and Juliet.
Choreographed by Ventriglia and designed by James Acheson, this production is opulence at its finest. Grand and constantly moving sets and stunningly sumptuous costumes transport the audience to Renaissance Italy where we meet the ill-fated lovers.
The fierce rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues provides the thematic backdrop to this epic three-hour tale of tragedy. Initially, Madeleine Graham's Juliet Capulet comes across overly sweet, but Graham develops into her character's all-consuming love with maturity and conviction.
Joseph Skelton as our Romeo is masterful; his charisma, technique and agility cement him as a leading man.
The beguiling partnership of Skelton and Graham has the audience willing the tragic end not to transpire and to just once end happily, with love conquering all.
The endearing ball scene is where Juliet is met by her intended, an enamoured Paris (Kohei Iwamoto). Instead her attention is stolen by the captivating Romeo.
What transpires from this point is nothing but tragic; rivalry gives way to hatred which ends with revenge, death then banishment, followed by more death.
There is an almost tangible camaraderie between Romeo and his faithful friends Benvolio and Mercutio, the fanciful Filippo Valmorbida and the playful, mocking Massimo Margaria, respectively.
Their protectiveness and loyalty shined through in the outstanding fight scenes.
The villainous Tybalt, played by Paul Mathews, and the provocative Mercutio are good, but the fight between Tybalt and Romeo shows the two are superbly adept with their foils and provide hugely convincing stage-fighting.
Abigail Boyle never disappoints and her Lady Capulet is a force not to be trifled with; her love runs deep.
This performance was accompanied by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, led by Hamish McKeich, who played Prokofiev's passionate and seductive score with aplomb - for the most part.
This visually magnificent production bids arrivederci to Ventriglia in dramatic style and will be a hard act to follow.
-By Penny Neilson