Romeo and Juliet
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet could probably lay claim to being his most famous work. The tragic tale of the 'star-cross'd lovers' set against the background of the feuding Montagues and Capulets has fired the imaginations of numerous artists, writers, composers, choreographers, film-makers and many others, who have re-imagined its story across the arts.
On this page we've gathered a selection of these performances and interpretations which have been created to mark 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare.
Juliet, a member of the Capulet family, meets Romeo of the Montague family - which has an ongoing feud with the Capulets - at a masked ball held by Juliet’s family. Although Juliet is due to marry Paris, she falls instantly in love with Romeo, and he with her. Later, in the famous ‘balcony scene’, they exchange vows of love, well knowing that their families would be extremely hostile to their union.
The Balcony Scene
Romeo Romeo: Discover how three key scenes from the play (balcony, fight and death) have been re-interpreted by watching and comparing:
- The BBC's 1978 television production (with a young Alan Rickman as Tybalt)
- The 2002 filmed version of Gounod's opera Romeo et Juliette starring Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu
- The 2009 Royal Ballet production with Kenneth Macmillan's choreography and Prokofiev's music starring Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo
- The 2016 Pop Up Opera production of Bellini's opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi (filmed in the vaults beneath London's Waterloo station)
More from the Royal Ballet
From the BFI
Aged just 17 and 15 respectively, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey had just filmed Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968).
In this interview the pair relate their experiences (one story concerns their co-star Bruce Robinson, future director of Withnail & I) and when asked about the perils of early stardom, Whiting concludes, "It's very hard to know what to do afterwards."
Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet was the last film of a Shakespeare play to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, although Shakespeare in Love walked away with the top prize at the 1998 Oscars.
Listen to an extract from Nino Rota's score for Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet
On the 23rd April 2016 as part of the celebrations of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary the BBC Concert Orchestra performed a Sound of Cinema concert at King Edward VI school in Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's school).
The concert included highlights from Rota's score for the Zefferelli film of Romeo and Juliet (the theme of which was for many years familiar from Our Tune on BBC Radio One).
Watch Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare's Globe, part of the Complete Walk films which were shown on London's Bankside on the Shakespeare anniversary weekend
Hay Festival: Is Romeo and Juliet actually a Comedy?
A contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, set on a British beach, where two families 'both alike in common crime' wage a turf war over ice-cream.
Around the clock with the Bard
To celebrate the longest day in Shakespeare's 400th anniversary year we went around the clock with time-related quotations. Check out the Romeo and Juliet quotes below including a gem from Anthony Andrews in the BBC's 1978 production.