In Liège, a stratospheric Giulietta

In Liège, a stratospheric Giulietta
In Liège, a stratospheric Giulietta

I Capuleti and Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues), it is the story of Romeo and Juliet as set to music by Vincenzo Bellini: an opera which, unlike the one that Gounod dedicated to the famous lovers of Verona, is not inspired not from Shakespeare’s play but from previous texts which nourished the great English author. And in this libretto by Felice Romani, there are only five characters, fewer adventures, no balcony or real love scene between Romeo and Juliet and a much stronger presence of the context of war between the two rival families .

National Congress

Director Allex Aguilera underlines this rivalry with the unique decor that he also designed: two dark walls facing each other, barely pierced by high loopholes, separated by a narrow plateau extended by a few steps towards a thin expanse of water and, placed in the center, a parallelepiped rotating on its base representing a more intimate space, the only refuge for lovers. Light pants and colorful jackets for the Montagues, the same dark version for the Capulets: the aristocratic costumes of Françoise Raybaud could suggest that the action takes place at the time of the creation of the work (1830, we almost believe we see the members of the National Congress of Belgium!), but above all it is a way of marking the timelessness of the action.

It’s a shame that this elegant space is so empty of theater. For lack of real depth in their psychology, the characters remain monochrome, the attitudes and gestures stereotypical, the movements quite awkward, not only for the soloists (who interact more with the audience than with each other) but also and especially for the choirs: walking without rhythm, clumsily feigning conversations and confabulations (even when a main character shouts at the footlights), we find them here as if they have gone back ten years when they had shown such theatrical capacities in some recent productions.

Good health

There remains, fortunately, the music to tell the drama, and Bellini gets along wonderfully. The musical direction of Maurizio Benini has the qualities and defects of the expertise of this old hand/routine of this repertoire: lively and flashy opening, sometimes heavy beating, lack of subtlety and rubati too predictable, but a score which advances and which arrives in the long term with the required influx. The house orchestra confirms its good health, in the tuttis but also in the solo interventions – particularly the winds.

And then, above all, there is a field of very good performance, starting with the truly stratospheric Giulietta of Rosa Feola. The Italian soprano signs a true demonstration of bel canto: perfect intonation, ideal breath control, dazzling projection, precision of attacks and ability to construct the singing line with astonishing ease – pianissimi the most subtle strong the most intense and back. Alongside him, we also admire the beautiful bass Romeo of Raffaella Lupinacci, the lyrical Lorenzo of Adolfo Corrado, the solid Capellio of Roberto Lorenzi and the always accurate Tebaldo of Maxim Mironov, even if the breath of the Russian tenor seems here and there too short and the projection is therefore sometimes insufficient.

Liège, Théâtre Royal, until May 28; www.operaliege.be. Broadcast planned on Mezzo

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