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Roméo et Juliette

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Run time: 3hrs 00min, 1 intermission

Sung in FRENCH

Subtitles in English, German, Italian, French, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese


Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has inspired numerous operatic adaptations, including Gounod’s sumptuous French creation. In the 2020–21 season of the Vienna State Opera, soprano Irina Lungu and tenor Michael Spyres shine as the star-crossed lovers. The ensemble cast also includes mezzo-soprano Virginie Verrez as the page Stéphano, Sergey Kaydalov as Mercutio, and bass Dan Paul Dumitrescu as Frère Laurent. Evelino Pidò conducts.

Charles Gounod (1818–1893) showed early promise as a musician and won France's most prestigious musical prize, the Prix de Rome. He composed 12 operas, of which Faust (1859) and Roméo et Juliette (1867) are still regularly performed. Gounod’s other compositions include sacred music, songs, piano music, incidental music for plays and two symphonies.

Jules Barbier (1825–1901) and Michel Carré (1821–1872) were the leading librettists of their day in France. For Roméo et Juliette they followed very closely Shakespeare’s text, often using direct translations of the original’s expressions and metaphors.

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) based his play on an earlier narrative play by the English writer Arthur Brooke, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet from 1562. Brooke in turn had been inspired by a story by the Italian poet Mateo Bandello (1480 – 1562).