Though Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona, there is something refreshing about hearing it sung in operatic French. Luckily for Vancouverites, the Vancouver Opera is currently presenting Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette until December 3.
I’ve seen at least 20 versions this on stage or on film since I was a pre-teen. In fact, I was once obsessed – there is nothing more romantic and tragic to a young girl than the classic story of star-crossed lovers.
I have to say that this production is now the best one I’ve seen on stage (my favourite film adaptation is Baz Luhrmann’s starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes). The voices are rich, the set is gorgeous, and it’s all in French, which is way better, it seems, to hear it in, than in English.
Soprano Simone Obsborne (making her first appearance at VO) was wonderful as Juliette and tenor Gordon Gietz was so exceptional. The only complaint I have is his costume, which is a pair of tights and a cod piece. It was very distracting as my eyes would only wander to one place (my mother complained about this same thing – we couldn’t help it!). I just didn’t get it – he was the only one out of the men with a costume like that and I think it took away from his performance because he’s an exceptional singer and performer.
Other than that, it was glorious and I adored Julie Boulianne in the male role of Roméo’s page Stéphano and Antoine Bélanger as Tybalt.
The Vancouver Opera presents Roméo et Juliette tonight and Saturday at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre starting at 7:30pm. Tickets are still available online (and at the box office) for both shows.