The iconic tale of two star-crossed lovers was reinterpreted by Vincenzo Bellini in his 1830 opera, which sees some diversions from Shakespeare’s original storyline: the two families are outright at war with each other, the young pair are madly in love from the very beginning and Friar Lawrence is a physician, not a friar at all, as well as other subtle changes throughout.
Bellini’s reinvention of the tragic tale also sees a woman take on the role of Romeo (the critically-acclaimed American opera singer Joyce Didonato performs as Romeo in this production), and the part of the leading lady, Juliet (interpreted by Ekaterina Siurina) was composed for a mezzo voice, rather than the higher-pitched and therefore typically soprano voice of most female parts.
The reversals of Bellini’s interpretation reflect the themes of identity and the search for belonging that Shakespeare’s original characters sought in one another. Powerfully gripping, this opera gives a fresh rendition of the story of two households.
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