Roméo et Juliette
Drame lyrique in five acts
Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
“It was the nightingale and not the lark.” This sentence, perhaps the most famous line in perhaps the most famous love story ever written, also found its way into Charles Gounod’s opera about Romeo and Juliet which first enthralled an audience at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1867. In the 19th century, all of France was in the grip of a veritable Shakespeare craze, and it was only a matter of time before the successful team of Gounod and Barbier & Carré turned their attention to one of the Bard’s dramas. The result was without doubt the most passionate adaptation of the tale with no fewer than four big love duets – no mean feat considering how many times the piece has been adapted, especially for the big screen, with visuals that range from the romantic to the hypermodern. And the work of director Marie-Eve Signeyrole also shows cinematic influences: right from the start, her career has often found her behind the camera. Consequently, she adds live video clips to her opera productions, presenting intense emotions with no need for grand gestures.
In French with German and English surtitles
Introduction to the work 30 minutes before curtain-up
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
(Leitung: Erwin Ortner)
The Capulet and Montague families have long been enemies. At a masked ball given by the Capulets, Juliette appears with her father. A masked Romeo from the Montague family has gatecrashed the ball with a group of friends. When he meets Juliette the two immediately fall head over heels in love. The couple attract the attention of Juliette’s cousin Tybalt who challenges Romeo to a duel. Initially, however, the ball continues. – At night Romeo comes into the Capulets’ garden where he can see Juliette alone for the first time. They promise to marry. – Father Lorenzo marries the two young lovers in the hope that their union will end the two clans’ quarrel. But soon afterwards a furious fight breaks out between the two families, in the course of which Tybalt kills Romeo’s friend Mercutio. Romeo avenges his friend and is banished from the town as a result. – Juliette is in despair because her father tells her that he has arranged for her to marry Paris. She confides in Father Lorenzo who gives her a potion that will send her into a sleep that has the appearance of death. After her funeral, Juliette can escape and meet Romeo again. Juliette follows the priest’s advice. – Romeo secretly returns to the town and finds Juliette’s tomb. Horrified, he poisons himself and the apparently dead Juliette awakens. Now she too sees no reason to live and stabs herself. The two lovers die together.