Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, April 7, 2008


NOTE: From time to time, Great Old Movies will run reviews of works in the other performing arts, especially if at some time they've been adapted into films. Romeo and Juliet was made into a movie several times. This is French composer Charles Gounod's operatic version and was shown as part of Great Performances (a live peformance, not a film).

ROMEO AND JULIET. Charles Gounod. Metropolitan Opera. 2008. Shown on PBS April 2008.

This first-rate production of Gounod’s masterpiece at the Metropolitan Opera in New York was shown on PBS as part of Great Performances – which it is. Although for years I was never carried away by tenor Roberto Alagna (pictured), I have to say that with Romeo he has found the role that has finally revealed him as an Artist of the First Rank: his singing and acting are superb. Soprano Anna Netrebko is one of the most attractive Juliet’s to ever grace the opera hall, and sings the role quite well, although there seems to be an occasional tendency to go flat. While not to everyone’s taste, she is undeniably talented. Placido Domingo conducts the Met Orchestra with vigor and sensitivity. Nathan Gunn, (Mercutio), Marc Heller (Tybalt), Luis Otey (Paris) and others also make fine contributions. The production design is romantic in the best sense of the word, although some might feel the floating bed (suspended from wires) upon which Romeo and Juliet sing their rhapsodic duet is a bit much, although it makes an attractive image with its background of stars. Probably Gounod’s most beautiful score. Directed by Gary Halvorson.
Verdict: Beautiful! ***1/2.

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