When he adapted Romeo and Juliette, the librettist Felice Romani chose to go back in time past Shakespeare, to the Italian origins of the legend. He tightened the storyline, editing out Mercutio, the nurse, the moonlight and the nightingale... The drama becomes more sombre: the quarrel between the two families a veritable feud. The lovers’ first encounter is pushed off stage and the final reconciliation becomes impossible. In the very title that Bellini retained, the names Capulet and Montague eclipse those of Romeo and Juliette, just as the conflict poisons their love. But the opera also revives a scene that Shakespeare had omitted: when Juliette – whom Romeo believes to be dead– wakes up in the tomb, the two lovers are able to exchange words before falling into eternal slumber. And, for a moment, the music of these lives, which cross and intertwine, illuminates the world with an overwhelmingly moving light. Under the baton of Bruno Campanella, Ekaterina Siurina and Karine Deshayes lend their voices to the lovers themselves embraced by Bellini’s intensely dramatic music.
Opéra Bastille - First performance on 24 April 2014 - 7:30PM
Ticket rates : 15€, 30€, 50€, 70€, 90€, 115€, 140€, 140€
Running time : 2H52 with one interval
Audio description for visually impaired on 26, 30 April and 8 May
- I Capuleti e i Montecchi
|Robert Carsen||Stage director|
|Michael Levine||Sets and costumes|
|Alessandro Di Stefano||Chorus master|
Nahuel Di Pierro
A : 24, 26, 30 april - 3, 8, 13, 17, 20 may 2014
B : 23 may 2014
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Vincenzo Bellini was born in Catania, Italy in 1801. A contemporary of Donizetti, he was considered in his day to be Rossini's successor. He was, however, able to distance himself from the Rossinian paradigm imbued as it was with the ideal of virtuosity. With Bellini, melody, dramatic expressivity and the portrayal of emotion took centre stage. His premature death in 1835 deprived the history of music of its only chance of a worthy rival to Verdi. Bellini was educated in Naples, with Giovanni Furno, Giacomo Tritto and Niccolo Zingarelli as his composition masters. His short opera entitled Adelson e Salvini (1825) was performed at the conservatoire while he was still a student. He was almost immediately charged with writing Bianca e Gernando (1825) for Naples' Teatro San Carlo, which was so well received that an invitation swiftly followed to write Il Pirata (1827) for La Scala in Milan, which met with a resounding success. Following this, Bellini composed La Straniera, Zaira and I Capuletti e i Montecchi. His reputation had been growing day by day when he returned to Milan to perform La Sonnambula, whίch carried his fame to the four corners of Europe. The end of the same year,1831, back in Milan, saw the first performance of Norma, his masterpiece. In 1833, Beatrice di Tenda was first performed in Venice. Subsequently, on Rossini's recommendation, he was given the task of writing an opera for the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. He moved to Puteaux, where he wrote I Puritani, performed in 1835 to huge success. The composer died several days later.
An opera in two acts. Libretto by Felice Romani.
I Capuleti et i Montecchi recounts the story of the Veronese lovers, Romeo and Giulietta. Bellini wrote the score in under six weeks. Romani used a revised version of the libretto he had written for Vaccai’s Giulietta e Romeo, the inspiration for which came more from Italian Renaissance sources than from Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. The characters of Mercutio and Paris are discarded. Romeo is not only an adolescent in love, but also a military leader: he is moreover the sole representative of the Montague clan.
The action takes place in a time span of twenty-four hours. We are not witness to Romeo and Giulietta’s meeting: when the curtain rises they are already in love with each other; we shall learn nothing about the dawning of their love. The characters are schematised and the vicissitudes of the plot simplified in favour of the drama of the two lovers.
The first performance
First performed at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1830, with Giuditta Grisi (Romeo), Maria Carradori-Allan (Giulietta), Lorenzo Bonfigli (Tebaldo). First French performance at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris on 10 January 1833, with Giuditta (Romeo) and Giulia (Giulietta) Grisi, Giovanni Battista Rubini (Tebaldo).
The work at the Paris OperaFirst performed in the Salle Le Peletier on 7 September 1859 in a French version with many cuts and borrowings from other composers, I Capuleti e I Montecchi was first performed at the Opéra Bastille in a concert version on June 12 1995 before being given in a staged version in November 1996 with Vesselina Kasarova (Romeo), Laura Claycomb (Giulietta) and Marcus Haddock (Tebaldo). The production was conducted by Evelino Pido and produced by Robert Carsen. This production, revived in 2008 with Anna Netrebko and Joyce DiDonato, is being performed today.