Opera Scotland

Roméo et Juliette Romeo and Juliet


Charles Gounod (born Paris, 17 June 1818; died Saint-Cloud, 18 October 1893).


Jules Barbier and Michel Carré.


Play (1596) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616).



First Performance: Paris (Théâtre-Lyrique), 27 April 1867.

First Performance in UK: London (Covent Garden), 11 July 1867.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 12 November 1890.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.



Faust quickly became one of the most popular operas in the repertoire, remaining so through to the middle of the 20th century. It would inevitably be difficult for Gounod to achieve anything approaching similar success with his later works. Roméo et Juliette has, however, always managed to maintain a place, and is certainly one of the most successful of operas to be derived from Shakespearian sources. It takes fewer liberties with the original than, for instance, the otherwise most enjoyable Hamlet, produced the previous year by Ambroise Thomas. It is more subtle than Faust, with a great deal of beautiful music, especially for the title roles. There is, inevitably, a problem shared by the original play, of casting the lead couple with singing actors of an appropriately youthful appearance.


Main Characters

Paris (baritone)

Tybalt (tenor)

Capulet (bass)

Juliette (soprano)

Gertrude, Juliette's nurse (mezzo-soprano)

Roméo (tenor)

Mercutio (baritone)

Stéphano (soprano)

Friar Laurence (bass)


Plot Summary

The most important departure from Shakespeare comes at the end, where, in true operatic fashion, Romeo survives long enough to be able to join Juliet in a final rapturous duet. In other respects the plot is respected to a great extent. The light-hearted travesti role of Stephano is added to Romeo's friends, and is instrumental in causing the fight in which Mercutio is killed. And Juliet's nurse is here given a name.

The Cast

 retainer to the Montagues
Count Capulet
Count Paris
Duke of Verona
Friar Lawrence
 Juliet's nurse
 Capulet's daughter
 friend of Roméo
 a Montague
 Romeo's page
 Capulet's nephew

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