Romeo and Juliet ("Roméo et Juliette") is an opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré represented for the first time in 1867 at the Théâtre Lyrique. The work is evidently inspired by the eponymous play by William Shakespeare, the “immortal Bard”. As a result of the immense success of Gounod’s Faust (performed over 300 times in only 10 years after its premiere), the theatrical entrepreneur Léon Carvalho commissioned him to write some other works, including Romeo and Juliet. The opera was such a success that it had the honor of being parodied in a comedy titled Rhum et eau en juillet, performed in Théâtre Déjazet the same year. Gounod’s work entered the repertoire of Opéra-Comique in 1873, where it was performed 391 times in only 14 years. However, the interest in Romeo and Juliet does not solely lie in its plot: Gounod’s music makes the story even more poignant, thanks to a series of duets sung by the main characters and the splendid aria for soprano “Je veux vivre” (also known as the “Juliet’s waltz”).
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Listen to Romeo and Juliet’s love song. Stream Gounod’s opera on medici.tv!
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world-class artists captured in the best audio quality and HD video! Thanks to its archetypal character, its emotional scenes and its love story that lasts against all odds even beyond death, Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet has become a universal drama, capable of stirring hearts all over the world. Nothing seems to be missing from the Shakespearean drama and yet Gounod’s music is able to add a new dimension to an already perfect play! On medici.tv, the best interpretations of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet await!
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The plot of Romeo and Juliet by Gounod is well-known: it is the story of two lovers, whose romance is hindered by society. This idea is ancient, established centuries before Shakespeare’s play. Dante, in the XIVth century, used to speak about “Montecchi e Cappelletti”, but we could trace this idea all the way back to Ovid’s elegies. Nevertheless, the play of the “Bard” has taken on a symbolic value, becoming the archetype of romantic love to the point that it inspired many artists thereafter. In fact, there are many musical adaptations: Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, a symphonic poem by Tchaikovsky, a ballet by Prokofiev and Kenneth MacMillan, Bellini’s opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi, up to Leonard Bernstein’s musical West Side Story. Romeo and Juliet is a story filled with misunderstanding and the death of the protagonists allows Gounod to take the consequences of these misconceptions to an extreme. And yet, he seems to suggest that only art can save the two lovers from death. In Gounod’s opera, Juliet sings: “Hark, hark!/‘Tis the sound of merry instruments/that summons and invites us!/Ah! –/A whole enchanted world seems to rise up/before my eyes!”. On medici.tv, come and discover the enchanted world of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, whenever you want, wherever you want!