The enduring and well known story of the star crossed lovers was written originally by Shakespeare and has been adapted to music, film, ballet and opera by many but Charles Gaunod was the first to adapt it into an opera in 1867. Inspired by real life (a couple in Verona who died for each other) Shakespeare wrote the tragic play about the lovers.
The story begins at a masked ball thrown by Juliet’s father where she and Romeo meet, meanwhile her father is trying to marry her off to Count Paris and would never consider Romeo’s family as suitable because there is constant and violent friction between the two families, so as soon as she is spotted talking for too long with Romeo (unrecognised in his mask) they are moved apart. Paris, the proposed groom wants to remove Romeo from the ball but he is calmed and told not to make a scene. Later in the evening Romeo, wanting to get to know Juliet better is hanging around in the gardens and hears her declaring her love for him whilst on the balcony of her room and Romeo responds to her.
The two, desperate for a solution to their problem of the family’s disapproval decide to ask for the wisdom of the friar. He sees their relationship as being a possible positive that might unite the families, stopping the feud between them, and decides that if they were married then nothing could separate them and the families would unite. So he marries them in secret.
One of Romeo’s friends makes a bid to allow them to escape in secret and sings in the street outside Juliet’s father’s house which draws out the servants determined to banish him from their grounds and a duel takes place in the street during which Romeo’s friend is killed. On hearing this news Romeo takes revenge and kills one of the opposing family’s servants. He is banished from Verona by the Duke of Verona with immediate effect. However Juliet’s servant enables them to spend the night together in Juliet’s room before he has to leave.
There is bad news in the morning though – Juliet is to be married to the Count Paris the very next day and she is distraught with grief and decides to visit the Friar to ask for his advice.
His solution is to give Juliet a strong sleeping draught that will make her appear dead, ensure that she is taken to the family Crypt where she can meet with Romeo once she awakes from the draught. Juliet agrees and entreats the Friar to get Romeo to her quickly. Sadly though the city has been shut down because of Plague and the
messenger cannot reach Romeo. He hears that Juliet has died and purchases a poisoned draught to kill himself, deciding that he will lay dead besides her in her family crypt.
Once he reaches the crypt, Juliet is just waking and reveals the Friar’s plan to him at which point he has to tell her that he is dying from poison and will die shortly so she grabs a dagger and stabs herself in the heart, the two lovers united in death.
Please check the destinations to see when and where this particular opera is on this year