Scene 1: A square in Verona around 1400
The city is awakening. The bitter enmity between Verona’s two most powerful families, the Montagues and the Capulets, erupts once again. The Duke of Verona quells the fighting, forbidding any further violence on pain of banishment.
Scene 2: The interior of the Capulet’s palace
The household is busy preparing for the forthcoming feast to celebrate the engagement between Juliet and Paris, the man whom Juliet’s parents have chosen to be her husband. Juliet teases her nurse who tries to explain to her that her days of childhood have come to an end. She is introduced to Paris, a rich nobleman.
Scene 3: In front of the palace gates
Guests are arriving for the masked ball to celebrate the engagement of Juliet and Paris. As a jest, Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio decide to enter their enemy’s house.
Scene 4: At the Capulet’s ball
In the midst of the crowded ballroom Juliet sets eyes on Romeo. Both are smitten by a passionate love and she realizes the superficiality of her feelings for Paris. Her cousin Tybalt recognizes his enemy Romeo and unmasks him. The nurse’s presentiment was right: Juliet’s carefree youth is over.
Scene 5: The garden of the Capulet’s palace (the ‘balcony scene’)
Juliet muses at her bedroom window. She catches sight of Romeo waiting for her in the garden under cover of darkness. In the intensity of the moment all thought of danger is banished as they swear eternal love.
Scene 6: The square at midday
Dancers and processions herald the celebration of a holy day. Mercutio and Benvolio, disappointed by Romeo’s distant behaviour, join in the celebrations. The nurse brings Romeo a letter from Juliet agreeing to marry him in secret. She tells Romeo to meet her in the chapel of her father confessor, Friar Lawrence.
Scene 7: Friar Lawrence’s chapel
Romeo persuades Friar Lawrence to give his blessing to his marriage to Juliet. After a brief wedding ceremony the young couple go their separate ways. Juliet returns alone to her parents’ house.
Scene 8: The square - evening
The celebrations are in full swing. Since the ball Tybalt is bent on avenging himself on Romeo and picks a quarrel with Mercutio. Romeo, now bound by family ties to Tybalt, tries to intervene between the two. But Tybalt kills Mercutio and, in a moment of passionate fury at the death of his best friend, Romeo stabs Tybalt to death.
Scene 9: Juliet’s bedroom
Banished from Verona after Tybalt’s death, Romeo has secretly spent his wedding night with Juliet. As day dawns Romeo must flee the city. Unaware that she has married Romeo, Juliet’s parents have made hasty preparations for her wedding to Paris. Juliet unsuccessfully tries to dissuade them and, in desperation, leaves the house to seek the help of Friar Lawrence. As she rushes to Friar Lawrence’s chapel, she encounters the ghosts of Mercutio and Tybalt, which seems to presage her own inescapable fate.
Scene 10: The chapel
Friar Lawrence gives Juliet a potion which will bring about a temporary semblance of death. He tells her that after burial in the family tomb, she will awaken and that Romeo, duly forewarned of the circumstances, will come to take her away.
Scene 11: Juliet’s bedchamber
Arriving back at her home, Juliet finally agrees to marry Paris. Left alone she drinks the potion. The wedding day dawns and she is discovered apparently dead.
Scene 12: The Capulet tomb
Friar Lawrence’s message has failed to reach Romeo and he has returned in secret to Verona. Believing Juliet to be dead, he is overcome with grief and kills himself. On awakening from her sleep and seeing Romeo dead at her feet, Juliet decides to join her loved one in death.