The IU Opera Theater’s Romeo et Juliette is a delightful production with plenty of lovely music, romance, action and even some very funny moments. The music comes from one of Charles Gounod’s greatest successes and conductor Ronald Zollman led the orchestra and accomplished cast with both grace and propulsion.
Saturday night’s Juliette, Stephanie Washington won the hearts of the audience and the loudest applause with a wonderfully sung and charmingly acted portrayal. It’s a role that begins in the upper reaches of the soprano voice and then requires a considerably heavier approach later on. She did both very well. Daniel Shirley was her equally successful Romeo demonstrating a lovely lyric tenor that seemed easy in all parts. Their duets were a special pleasure.
John Orduna was an energetic and engaging Mercutio with Oliver Henderson as the spiteful Tybalt. Sarah Stone was a small voiced but charming mock brawler as Romeo’s page Stephano.
Joseph Mace was personable as Juliette’s father Count Capulet. The friar who marries the couple and later supplies the drug for Juliette’s sleep was Cody Medina and Curtis Crafton, the Duke who banishes Romeo.
IU’s energetic production was directed by Michael Ehrman. It’s a return visit from Ehrman. He did the original staging for the debut of C. David Higgins design for Romeo et Juliette in 2005. The fight choreography is by Adam Noble and there’s quite a bit more than just banging of blades going on in these carefully worked out pieces.
Dancers from the IU Ballet Theater choreographed by Michael Vernon lent a nice touch to the ball scenes.
The IU Opera Theater production of Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette continues with performances Friday and Saturday the 30th and 31st.
By the way, sitting next to me Saturday night was a proud mother of one of the chorus. She’d driven in to see her son and told me that her husband was watching the live streaming back home in Chicago. If you get to see the opera on the small screen, the individual choristers in the group shots are pretty small. But if you look carefully, in the curtain call their boy is the tall one standing next to the left pillar on the top level.
Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod
Indiana University Opera Theater
October 23-24 and 30-31, 2009
Listen to an interview with singers Lacy Sauter and Jonathan Matthews.