The Israeli Opera presents ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Charles Gonoud.
(photo credit: ALAIN HANEL)
Gounod’s tearjerker Romeo and Juliet was performed at the Israeli Opera last week.
Gounod does not miss any opportunity for overflowing sentimentality.
Nevertheless, Jean-Louis Grinda’s direction and Eric Chevalier’s sets were within the confines of refined taste. Crowd scenes were indeed crowded, and the battle scene in Act III was reasonably impressive and exciting. Sets were minimalist and mercifully left much to imagination without indulging in unappetizing details.
In the title role, Gaston Rivero made one well understand why Juliet fell in love with his radiant tenor, significantly prolonging meaningful notes to let their intense emotions sink in. As Juliet, Aurelia Florian’s bright, expressive soprano sounded at the beginning too shrill and assertive for this gentle, innocent girl, but later relaxed her voice’s strain and became genuinely soft and moving toward the end. As Friar Laurence, Petri Liindoors’ friendly, dark bass sounded just as reassuring as his role requires.
At the end, Gounod saw fit to improve on Shakespeare by omitting the final appearance of the lovers’ families and Friar Laurence – presumably in order to not dilute the impact of the lovers’ deaths and not to make an already long opera even longer.
Conducted by Francesco Cilluffo, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion noticeably emphasized dramatic happenings and emotional moments. It flexibly adjusted its tempi to the singers’ intentions, and sounded uncommonly energetic.