Opera Review: Romeo & Juliet
© THE FLASH LIST | February 11, 2011
PHOTOS BY KAREN ALMOND
From duel to dagger, TDO’s Romeo & Juliet delivers just what you would expect from an opera: a timeless, classic tale of love and loss along with suspense and drama as well as a solid performance by the leading lady (in this case, Russian soprano Lyubov Petrova, who’s been delighting audiences since her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2001).
But even with everything that we’d eagerly hoped for in this production, some aspects proved to be even better than anticipated. Tenor Charles Castronovo convincingly played the love struck Roméo with fantastic ease and skill - masculine yet gentle, expressing love and sorrow with equal passion, and appearing fresh and young but not at all naïve. His duets with Petrova were especially tender and romantic, and a great portion of the audience reserved their standing ovation until Castronovo appeared at curtain call.
A Few More Surprises
Bass-Baritone Stephen Morscheck maintained commanding stage presence as Juliet’s father, Capulet; Robert Lloyd‘s captivating bass voice lent savory flavor to the Frère Lawrence role; and the expressive theatrics of baritone Joshua Hopkins in the role of Mercutio were a pleasure to watch. One of the less expected highlights of the evening however came by way of Romanian mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu. In a style reminiscent of Elena Belfiore who just played Smeton in The Dallas Opera’s last production, Anna Bolena, Constantinescu was engaging in the trouser role of Stéphano, Romeo’s page. Nearby whispery buzz during the second intermission by those seated around us included “She’s my favorite!” and “She’s stealing the show!” While we think it would be quite a feat to ‘steal’ this particular three hour show with just her one short number, we will say that Constantinescu’s performance was definitely a very entertaining treat.
Sets & Score
The stage itself was packed with grand architectural features which smoothly transitioned from warm and stately ballroom to cold and somber tomb. A series of arched passageways framed tapestries and puff-sleeved cast members like a magnificent, super-sized 16th century triptych.
You should know though that there were some long pauses between set ‘resets’. The several minutes of dark, closed curtain silence seem a little awkward at first, but just sit back and wait for the elegant, dreamy music of the orchestra because the resulting scene ‘unveiling’ (which at one point reveals the amber lit glass door on the famous balcony in the midst of a garden abloom with rose bushes and long hanging vines) was unquestionably worth the wait. And heightening the already intense character portrayals, the score (conducted by Marco Zambelli) was lively, dramatic, tranquil, suspenseful, and at times even spooky.
Get in on the Action
Although Romeo & Juliet is sung in French with English supertitles, the story line is so well known that we recommend it for opera newcomers who might like to get their feet wet with a familiar plot. Then who knows? You might eventually find yourself signing up for The Dallas Opera’s email distribution list and watching for the next round of casting announcements for supernumeraries (onstage ‘extras’)!
You might think about packing some tissues or throat lozenges for this show. It seems that the recent cold snap has put quite a few people a bit under the weather, and we noticed a hefty extra dose of casual coughing in the crowd. (Don’t forget to unwrap those cough drops before the show begins.)
Romeo & Juliet runs through February 27, 2011; and then Rigoletto, Verdi's tale of a tragic jester, his corrupt master, and his daughter (an innocent beauty), opens at the Winspear on March 25th. For more information, see http://www.dallasopera.org