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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast and Live in HD Transmission: Roméo et Juliette 

Saturday, January 21, 2017, 12:55 P.M. (ET) (HD) 1:00 p.m. (ET) (RADIO)  

Broadcast Romeo hdl 117
A scene from Bartlett Sher’s staging of Roméo et Juliette, photographed at La Scala
© Brescia/Amisano
The Met: Live in HD series is made possible by a generous grant 
from its founding sponsor, The Neubauer Family Foundation. 
Global sponsorship of The Met: Live in HD is also provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. 
The HD Broadcasts are supported by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®.

The 2016–17 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored 
by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®, with generous long-term 
support from The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation, 
The Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media, 
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.

Roméo et Juliette  

Libretto by JULES BARBIER and MICHEL CARRÉ, after the play by William Shakespeare 
(in order of vocal appearance)
Tybalt  tenor, DIEGO SILVA 
Paris  bass-baritone, DAVID CRAWFORD 
Capulet  bass-baritone, LAURENT NAOURI 
Juliette  soprano, DIANA DAMRAU 
Mercutio  baritone, ELLIOT MADORE 
Gertrude  mezzo, DIANA MONTAGUE 
Grégorio  bass-baritone, JEONGCHEOL CHA 
Frère Laurent  bass, MIKHAIL PETRENKO 
Stéphano  mezzo, VIRGINIE VERREZ 
Benvolio  tenor, TONY STEVENSON 
Duke of Verona  bass, OREN GRADUS 
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Bartlett Sher  
Set designer: Michael Yeargan  
Costume designer: Catherine Zuber  
Lighting designer: Jennifer Tipton  
Choreographer: Chase Brock  
Fight director: B. H. Barry  
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo  
Musical preparation: Howard Watkins,  
Pierre Vallet, Lydia Brown, Marie-France Lefebvre  
Assistant stage directors: Gina Lapinski,   
Jonathon Loy, Daniel Rigazzi  
Prompter: Marie-France Lefebvre  
Production a gift of  
The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund 
A La Scala Production, initially  
presented by the Salzburg Festival
Timings (ET) 
(Verona, 14th century) 
PROLOGUE           1:00–  
ACT I   A masked ball at the Capulet palace     
ACT II     Courtyard beneath Juliette’s balcony   
ACT III      
Sc. 1  Frère Laurent’s cell  –2:25 
Sc. 2  A street in Verona    2:55–  
ACT IV   Juliette’s bedroom   
ACT V  Inside the Capulets’ tomb  –4:20 
Host: Mary Jo Heath 
Commentator: Ira Siff 
Music producer: David Frost 
Producers: Ellen Keel, William Berger 
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,  
Elena Park 
Directed for live cinema by Gary Halvorson 
HD host: Ailyn Pérez 
This performance will be transmitted live, 
in high definition and surround sound, into selected movie theaters as part of The Met: Live in HD series. For information on tickets, 


PROLOGUE. The chorus chants of Verona's Montague-Capulet feud, and of Roméo and Juliette, who held fast to their love though doomed to a tragic death.

ACT I. At a masked ball given by Capulet, Juliette's cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris eagerly await her appearance. When Capulet presents his daughter, the guests exclaim at her beauty; Juliette responds with joy at attending her first party. Capulet urges the guests to enjoy themselves and, after a ballet, leads them to another room. Roméo and his companions, masked, steal into the empty room. When Roméo reports an ominous dream, Mercutio hails Queen Mab, the mistress of fantasy. At Juliette's approach, Roméo hides with his friends, and she enters with her nurse. Reveling in the freedom of youth, she is immediately entranced when Roméo unmasks and addresses her. She responds sweetly to his advances until Tybalt interrupts their encounter. Roméo rushes off, but Tybalt has recognized him as a Montague and calls together a group to follow him. Only Capulet's intervention prevents bloodshed, and the party continues.

ACT II. Under Juliette's balcony, heedless of his friends' voices calling him, Roméo hails her as the sun, the purest and brightest star. She appears, distressed at her feelings for an enemy of her family, but when Roméo steps forward, the feud is forgotten, and the two ecstatically pledge their love. Roméo hides briefly as a group of Capulets passes, looking for him. When they are gone, he and Juliette plan to meet the following day for a secret marriage, then bid each other a rhapsodic farewell.

ACT III. In Frère Laurent's cell, Roméo and Juliette arrive with her nurse and ask the friar to marry them. He does so, hoping their union will bring peace to warring families, and asking God's mercy for them.

That same morning, Roméo's page, Stéphano, plants himself outside the Capulets' palace to insult them with a mocking song, provoking a fight. When Tybalt challenges Mercutio, Roméo arrives to stop the quarrel, answering Tybalt's belligerence with offers of friendship. Enraged by his friend's apparent cowardice, Mercutio draws his sword to uphold the Montague honor and is fatally wounded by Tybalt. He dies cursing both families. Roméo furiously challenges Tybalt and kills him as the square fills with outraged citizens. Capulet calls for revenge, and the Duke of Verona appears. Tired of the endless bloodshed, he banishes Roméo from the city. Roméo cries that he will brave even death to see Juliette again.

ACT IV. That night in Juliette's bedroom, the lovers are united, but when day dawns, Roméo reluctantly departs. Capulet and the friar greet Juliette with the news that she is to marry Paris that very day. Alone with Laurent, Juliette appeals for help, and he gives her a potion to simulate death, promising she will wake with Roméo beside her. Draining the vial, she collapses as her parents arrive to lead her to the altar.

ACT V. Roméo, having heard of his beloved's supposed death, arrives at Juliette's tomb and gives way to despair. Unwilling to live without her, he takes poison. Juliette awakens, and the pair ecstatically hail a new life together, but the poison begins to take effect, and Roméo bids Juliette a tender farewell. Snatching his dagger, she stabs herself. Praying for forgiveness, they die in each other's arms. 


Though present-day revivals of Roméo et Juliette are sporadic, it was once more popular than Faust. Along with the even rarer Mireille, these operas are the only survivors of Charles François Gounod's output. In his lifetime, the composer's lyric gift and the French addiction to opera kept him busy writing for the stage, though he was also active in the symphonic and religious arenas, and his reputation eventually rivaled Meyerbeer's.

After studying at the Paris Conservatory under Halévy and Paer, Gounod won a Prix de Rome in 1839. He returned from his sojourn in Italy by way of Germany and Austria, where he was impressed by Schumann and encouraged by Mendelssohn. Always "hovering between mysticism and voluptuousness," Gounod studied theology for two years and abstained from holy orders only when convinced he could have a musical career. 

Shakespeare's tale of ill-starred love has been adapted often for the opera stage, both before and after Gounod. The best-known versions are those of Vaccai (1825), Bellini (1830), Zandonai (1922), Heinrich Sutermeister (1940) and Boris Blacher (1950). Gounod's version, the most popular of all, survived a disastrous dress rehearsal to enrapture the opening-night audience at the Théâtre Lyrique on April 27, 1867. It played for 100 consecutive performances.

Roméo et Juliette reached the U.S. on November 15, 1867, at New York's Academy of Music. Its Metropolitan Opera House premiere, on December 14, 1891, featured Emma Eames and the de Reszke brothers. The present production, new to New York this season, is directed by Bartlett Sher and has been seen at Salzburg and La Scala.


James Harding's Gounod (Stein and Day, hard to find) is a good one-volume survey of the composer's career. Shakespeare's text is available in many paperback editions.

The most complete account of Roméo on CD is the 1995 set led by Michel Plasson, who fields the well-cast principal team of Roberto Alagna, Angela Gheorghiu, Simon Keenlyside and José van Dam (EMI). Plácido Domingo courts Ruth Ann Swenson on Leonard Slatkin's glossy 1995 Roméo (RCA); the supporting roles are luxuriously cast here, with Susan Graham (Stéphano), Paul Charles Clarke (Tybalt), Christopher Maltman (Paris) and Toby Spence (Benvolio) among the citizens of Verona. The 1968 performance led by Alain Lombard (EMI) stars Franco Corelli and Mirella Freni, the handsome duo who were the stars of Paul-Emile Deiber's 1967 Roméo et Juliette staging at the Metropolitan Opera. Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón include a passionate "Nuit d'hymenée" on their Duets disc, conducted by Nicola Luisotti.

On DVD, in Covent Garden's 1994 Roméo (Kultur), Charles Mackerras paces Alagna and Leontina Vaduva as the lovers in Nicolas Joël's staging; all parties are in fine form. Barbara Willis Sweete's 2002 TV film of the opera (Arthaus), starring Alagna and Gheorghiu, condenses more than three hours of music into a seventy-three-minute gallop. spacer 

This performance is also being broadcast
on Metropolitan Opera Radio on
SiriusXM channel 74.
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