Gounod: Roméo et Juliette
- Episode aired Feb 17, 2018
- 3h 30min
Verona, eighteenth century, a choir speaks of the endless enmity between the Montague and Capulet families, and the love of their children, Romeo and Juliette.Verona, eighteenth century, a choir speaks of the endless enmity between the Montague and Capulet families, and the love of their children, Romeo and Juliette.Verona, eighteenth century, a choir speaks of the endless enmity between the Montague and Capulet families, and the love of their children, Romeo and Juliette.
This Met production is impressive on the most part, it could have been better with more appealing sets and more consistent stage direction but was blameless musically. Of the 11th season of the 'Metropolitan Opera HD Live' series it is the second best of the season so far after the transfixing 'L'Amour De Loin', a triumph after the season started shakily with 'Tristan Und Isolde' and to a lesser extent 'Don Giovanni' ('Nabucco' was decent).
Where this 'Romeo Et Juliette' fares weakest is the set design and some of the stage direction. The sets are very unattractively sparse and don't give a feeling of 18th century opulence, plus they are rather too darkly lit and that feels at odds with the spirit of the opera and the story. Had mixed feelings on Sher's stage direction.
Most of it is fine, he does do a good job making the characters and their conflicts interesting, the balcony scene is very elegant and thanks to the chemistry between the two stars will bring tears to the eyes, the crowd scenes are inventive and the combat scene is well-staged and has some intensity. The scene changes are pretty fluid and neatly done as well. Too many of his ideas however are a little safe and lack originality, a few parts are a little too over-kinetic (which makes the conflict occasionally muddled) and others are a bit silly and distracting, like with how Romeo and Juliette spend their wedding night and the forced surreal touches.
However, the costumes are often stunningly extravagant (especially those for Damrau). Musically, the production is blameless, with lyrical and passionate orchestral playing and an as usual on-form performance from the chorus (who do very well with uninspired stage direction that belongs elsewhere other than 'Romeo Et Juliette'), held together by the alert but nuanced conducting of Gianandrea Noseda. With him at the helm, the music has a sparkling lightness but also depth, though there maybe could have been a little more theatricality.
Elliot Madore sings dynamically and portrays Mercutio with the right amount of boastful playfulness, while Mikhail Petrenko is a hearty Frere Laurent and Virginie Verrez a youthfully impetuous Stephano (singing "Que Tu Fais Blanche Tourterelle" with agility and spirit). Diana Montague and David Crawford are fine, but the best supporting performance is the wonderfully stern and sonorous Capulet of Laurent Nauouri.
Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau steal the show however, and not only are they on dynamite form individually but their chemistry sizzles, especially in "O Nuit Divine" (aka The Balcony Scene). Grigolo's Romeo is youthful and charismatic with plenty of intensity and surprising nuance. He sings with a ringing and ardent sound that is capable of tender pianissimos and declamatory fortissimos, as well as the in between and less extreme dynamics, particularly shining in "O Nuit Divine" and "Ah Leve Toi Soleil". Damrau dazzles vocally, particularly in a sparkling "Je Veux Vivre" and in her powerful "poison aria", and delivers a moving performance as Juliette.
To conclude, impressive production, though not without faults, elevated to a greater level by Grigolo and Damrau. Oh, the HD and video directing are very nicely done, the intermission interview interesting and the hosting engaging. 8/10 Bethany Cox
- Feb 10, 2017