‘Romeo et Juliette’ finishes successful run

UK opera singers took the stage in the production of “Romeo et Juliette,” closing on Saturday.

The women donned elegant long dresses and the men wore tights and dress of their own fashion, giving the operatic performance the traditional look of Shakespeare’s original Romeo and Juliet.

“We have beautiful costumes and beautiful sets, and the audience gets the opportunity of seeing another time period,” Stephanie Sundine, director of the opera, said.

Differences existed between Shakespeare’s original work and the opera, written by Charles Gounod. For instance, the original piece by Shakespeare began with a fight between the Capulets and Montagues, while the opera began with an extravagant party.

Gounod gave Romeo’s pageboy a more important role, including a name. Stefano added a high-pitched vocal to lessen the tension and add comic relief to the play.  Stefano was played by two women, Melissa Snow-Graves and Laikin Simons played the part.

“Having a double cast allowed for more singers to have a chance to perform,” Sundine said.  “It is extremely important for singers of their age to have experience.”

Regardless of which performers they saw, audiences left impressed. “This being my second time watching the opera, I found there were many differences, but the quality of the singers sounded professional,” Margaret Collins, a former opera singer, said.

Action was not lost in this rendition of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. The sword fights between Tybalt and Romeo and Tybalt and Mercutio were as “terrifying” as Sundine wanted them to be. The fight, choreographed by Bryan Robertson, was scary and vivid.  The death of Mercutio and Tybalt tore at the heartstrings of the audience.

The fight for forbidden love was clearly shown in this opera.  The Romeos and Juliettes formed a true connection that was expressed in the performance.

“It’s a rare chance to see one of the famous operas by Gounod,” said John Greer, vocal coach for the opera.  “The public is very lucky to see the masterpi