Shakespeare's greatest love story, Romeo and Juliet, will be brought to life in Rotorua by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, in the company's epic production of 2017.

Newly choreographed, this three-act ballet by Francesco Ventriglia, with set and costume design by three-time Oscar winning designer James Acheson (Dangerous Liaisons, The Last Emperor, Restoration) has its world premiere in Wellington on August 16.

It will then tour eight centres, coming to Rotorua on September 8 and 9.

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo and Juliet is the Royal New Zealand Ballet's third and final touring production of the year.


Francesco Ventriglia, who has choreographed 23 works for ballet companies around the world including La Scala, the Bolshoi Theatre and American Ballet Theatre, and was nominated for the Golden Lion forawork he created for the dance component of the Venice Biennale, is honoured to create his second full-length ballet for the company and New Zealand audiences.

"To create a brand new classical ballet of one of the greatest stories and the most beautiful scores is so invigorating. I'm taking great care to respect Shakespeare and Prokofiev's great works plus drawing inspiration from Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 multi Academy Award-winning film.

"I'm also working with a dream team of collaborators and the very talented artists of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, who I'd like to thank for their incredible work.

"James Acheson's magnificent sets make me feel right at home, like I'm in Verona in the height of an Italian summer.

"All of the costumes are exquisite. We have been very true to the Renaissance period and I know audiences will also be transported to the time and place where our star-crossed lovers meet."

To stay true to the famous story, Francesco has invited Italian editor and dramaturg Mario Mattia Giorgetti to join the creative team, alongside choreographic assistant Gillian

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Frederic Jahn returns to New Zealand to join the team as guest ballet master. Frederic, who grew up in Dunedin and danced with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 1965-68 before dancing internationally, was also Francesco's first ballet master when Francesco was a young dancer at La Scala.

Patricia Barker, the company's newly appointed artistic director says it's an exciting time to join the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

"This production promises to be exquisite while it transports us to the heart of Verona.

"The energy in the studio is captivating. I have enjoyed getting to know the Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers and I'm looking forward to seeing them inhabit these iconic

It's been over a decade since the Royal New Zealand Ballet created a new version of Romeo and Juliet.

Work began on this production in October 2016 and it will be the company's biggest production of 2017 with 13 scene changes and more than 90 costumes.

"We're delighted to be able to support the Royal New Zealand Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet," Ryman Healthcare chief executive Gordon MacLeod says.

"We think our residents -and the rest of New Zealand-are in for a real treat,"

What: Royal New Zealand Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet
Where: Rotorua Civic Theatre
When: September 8 and 9
Cost: From $25 for children, from $34.20 for adults.