Roméo et Juliette
Florida Grand Opera’s presentation of Gounod’s "Roméo et Juliette" is a delightful production of this favorite 19th century opera. The production stars soprano Maria Alejandres as Juliette and tenor Sébastien Guéze as Roméo and features a lively supporting cast of strong singers as well as a beautiful set.
Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette is a faithful reworking of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy. The opera is sung in French with English and Spanish supertitles presented above the stage. The set was originally created for a production at the Minnesota Opera and, despite a scenic mishap in Act 2 Scene 1, was very impressive and beautiful with many moving pieces and projections highlighting the scenes.
Soprano Maria Alejandres makes a lovely and charming Juliette. She has a lovely and flexible voice that is more than capable of handling this florid, coloratura filled role.
The true standout of the evening was Sébastien Guéze’s Romeo. Guéze is an up-and-coming tenor from France and he has a spectacular voice with a crystal clear upper register. His voice has a power and beauty that is rarely heard.
Roméo is a difficult role to sing demanding a strong control of the upper register and the ability to go from forte to pianissimo on the high B-flats. Guéze handled this deftly and beautifully.
Other standout performances came from mezzo-soprano Courtney McKeown as Stéphano, Roméo’s page, and tenor Daniel Shirley as Tybalt.
With a running time of three hours and fifteen minutes, Roméo et Juliette is a long evening, but the beauty of the music coupled with fine singing and the spectacular set made the time seem to fly by.
The only disappointment was that the acoustics in the Au-Rene Theater are not the best for un-amplified operatic performances. In my Orchestra level seats, occasionally the orchestra overwhelmed some of the basses and baritones and overall, the sound was a little on the quiet side. I’m a believer that opera should be loud and I prefer seeing opera in smaller venues.