Setting the play in the heat of an Italian summer “for now these hot days is the mad blood stirring”, this may just have been a happy coincidence.At Lammas-tide the earliest corn to ripen was made into specially consecrated loaves, a festival celebrating the beginning of harvest.He wrote the work for the Kirov Ballet, but the huge demands it placed on the dancers meant it wasn’t performed for a few years, receiving its premiere in Brno in 1938.

Meanwhile, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Montague's son, about Romeo's recent depression.

Believed to have been written between 15, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597.

However, Prokofiev’s first big idea for his ballet music for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was probably just a little beyond the pale: he was going to change it to a happy ending.

In the end, he considered, almost certainly correctly, that this would have been a step too far.

Lammas Day, 1 August, was an important day in the calendar, but for Shakespeare-lovers Lammas Eve, 31 July, is the more significant because it was the day of Juliet’s birth.

Juliet is one of the few Shakespearean characters whose age and date of birth we know exactly, and Shakespeare tells us this before we know anything else about her.

Recommended Recording Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor).

Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris's courtship.

On Lammas-Eve at night shall she be fourteen; That shall she, marry; I remember it well.

‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; And she was wean’d,—I never shall forget it,— Of all the days of the year, upon that day: For I had then laid wormwood to my dug, Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall; My lord and you were then at Mantua:— Nay, I do bear a brain:—but, as I said, When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool, To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!

Then we move backstage to this little gem of a scene in which a servant, the nurse, is put centre-stage.