Ann Hallenberg 1280x680 © Örjan Jakobsson


Romeo and Juliet – without doubt the most famous pair of lovers in the world. The tale of two lovers kept apart by adverse circumstances has its origin in numerous myths and legends: couples such as Pyramus and Thisbe or Tristan and Isolde suffered the same fate. Since William Shakespeare put the story on the stage in the late sixteenth century, his drama has enjoyed unbroken popularity. It is therefore not surprising that artistic interpretation of the subject was not confined to the visual arts, but from the late eighteenth century was also found increasingly often on the operatic stage. Giuseppe Maria Foppa’s libretto is remarkably faithful to Shakespeare’s drama, containing only minor deviations. Allegedly, Niccolò Antonio Zingarelli, the last representative of the famous Neapolitan School, composed the music in only eight days for the Teatro alla Scala in Milan where the tragedia per musica Giulietta e Romeo premiered in 1796. This opera remained one of the most popular stage works right up to the era of Rossini, as shown by the large number of adaptations to be found in cities all over Europe. Aesthetically, Zingarelli, who lived from 1753 to 1837, moved between the baroque and the classical. Giulietta e Romeo is therefore an agreeable mixture of baroque opera and pioneering composition reminiscent of Zingarelli’s most famous pupil, Vincenzo Bellini.