Saturday, January 21, 2017

Roméo et Juliette in HD

Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
Production:  Bartlett Sher

Juliette:  Diana Damrau
Roméo: Vittorio Grigolo
Stéphano, Roméo's page: Virginie Verrez
Mercutio, RomĂ©o's friend:  Elliot Madore
Frère Laurent:  Mikhail Petrenko
Tybalt:  Diego Silva
Pâris:  David Crawford

There was a time in the history of the Metropolitan Opera when Gounod's RomĂ©o et Juliette was the most frequently performed opera in the repertoire.  Today's performance reminded us of why this might have been true.  This is by far the most emotionally intense performance of this opera that I have experienced.  Some of this may have had to do with the fact that Bartlett Sher directs it both as a play and as an opera.

I admit that I didn't like Vittorio in Werther because for me Werther is simply not Italian.  However, RomĂ©o is.  You cannot be too Italian for RomĂ©o.  It turns out that Italian intensity is exactly what is wanted here.  He fenced and climbed up the set with great style and enthusiasm.  Diana Damrau matched him stride for stride, note for note.  It was simply a thrill to be there.  Diana told us at intermission that she would rather sing Juliette than Violetta.  She was running over with enthusiasm.  Their joy in performing transfers to us.

The supertitles quoted Shakespeare far more often than I have seen before.  This helped connect Elliot Madore's excellent Mercutio to the Queen Mab speech from the play.

Disturbing nonsense:  In the bedroom scene the orchestra plays beep, beep, beep, beep, hinting at the sound of a lark, and I immediately think it is his phone going off.

I only wish I was as pleased with the performance musically.  I have liked Noseda in the past, but the bedroom scene was completely spoiled by his fast tempo.  Normally this is a highlight of the opera.

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