I Capuleti e i Montecchi: A different take on Romeo and Juliet

Wexford Festival Opera: A young cast takes on Bellini’s challenging music

I Capuleti e i Montecchi: Capellio (Rory Dunne) and ensemble. Photograph: Clive Barda/ ArenaPal

I Capuleti e i Montecchi: Capellio (Rory Dunne) and ensemble. Photograph: Clive Barda/ ArenaPal

 

I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI

National Opera House, Wexford
★★★☆☆
Bellini’s 1830 I Capuleti e i Montecchi is no longer neglected repertoire. Its place in this year’s Wexford Festival Opera is as a showcase for the talents of the Wexford Factory, the festival’s professional development academy for young Irish and Ireland-based singers, with one addition from Moscow, part of an exchange with the Bolshoi Theatre’s young-artist opera programme.

I Capuleti e i Montecchi is the story of Romeo and Juliet, though not from Shakespeare. And Bellini has both main roles sung by women, Romeo by a mezzo-soprano (Anna Brady) and Giulietta by a soprano (Jade Phoenix).

Bellini is a big challenge for young voices, both vocally and interpretatively, and his writing is often unforgiving of even small flaws in musical shaping and melodic continuity.

Anna Brady gives a gutsy performance, not always without vocal strain but with a strong feeling for the melodic tenacity that Bellini’s writing demands

Brady gives a gutsy performance, not always without vocal strain but with a strong feeling for the melodic tenacity that Bellini’s writing demands. Phoenix’s voice is much more agile, the tone sometimes a little too thin but with an aptitude for bravura that is quite impressive.

The Tebaldo of the Russian tenor Aleksey Kursanov communicated with a lovely, sensual tone, but the singing didn’t always sound at ease with Bellini’s demands.

Conor Hanratty’s bare-bones, low-tension staging, with costumes by Frances White and Serena Treppiedi as set consultant, sees the warring families as clashing Mafia gangs. Rory Dunne’s feisty but not always vocally imposing Capellio comes across as a mafioso ordering a hit.

Under conductor Giuseppe Montesano, the arrangement for piano (Giulio Zappa) and string quartet (the ConTempo Quartet) is too consistently piano dominated.

I Capuleti e i Montecchi continues at the National Opera House on Saturday, October 23rd, Tuesday, October 26th, and Friday, October 29th, as part of Wexford Festival Opera

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