Bartlett Sher’s production of Gounod’s sumptuous Shakespeare adaptation was a hit of the 2016–17 Met season (“a revelation” declared the Huffington Post). Now the sweeping tragedy returns with Ailyn Pérez and Bryan Hymel, both celebrated in French repertoire, as the star crossed young lovers. Plácido Domingo conducts.
World premiere: Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, 1867. Perhaps the most enduringly successful of the many operatic settings of the world’s consummate love story, Roméo et Juliette is an excellent example of French Romanticism, a tradition that values subtlety, sensuality, and graceful vocal delivery over showy effects. In the opera there is a slight shift of focus away from the word games of the original play and a greater focus on the two lovers, who are given four irresistible duets, including a brief final reunion in the tomb scene that does not appear in the play.
Placido Domingo – Conductor
Ailyn Perez – Juliette
Karine Deshayes – Stephano
Bryan Hymel – Romeo
Joshua Hopkins – Mercutio
Kwagchul Youn – Frere Laurent
Charles Gounod (1818–1893) showed early promise as a musician and achieved commercial success with his opera Faust in 1859. Among his most famous works is a setting of the Ave Maria based on a piece by J. S. Bach. Jules Barbier (1825–1901) and Michel Carré (1821–1872) were the leading librettists of their time in France, providing the text for many other operas, including Faust for Gounod, Mignon (also from Goethe) and Hamlet for Ambroise Thomas, and Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Jacques Offenbach.
Production – Bartlett Sher
Lighting Designer – Jennifer Tipton
Set Designer – Michael Yeargan
Choreographer – Chase Brock
Costume Designer – Catherine Zuber
In Shakespeare’s lifetime, Italy was a land of many small city-states in constant warfare with one another, but this same country was also the cradle of the Renaissance, with its astounding explosion of art and science. The image invoked by the story’s setting in the ancient city of Verona, then, is a beautiful but dangerous world where poetry or violence might erupt at any moment. The Met’s new production moves the action to the 18th century.