A timeless tale of love and woe
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The most famous operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tale of young love doomed by feuding families will come to the stage of the Englert Theatre when the University of Iowa School of Music presents Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod April 26-29.
The performances, conducted by William LaRue Jones and featuring stage direction by Alan E. Hicks, will be at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 26-28, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29.
The title roles will be sung, in alternating performances, by James Thompson and Chaz’men Williams-Ali as Roméo, and Sarah Thompson and Hye Eun Choi as Juliette. In addition to the student cast, the production features faculty member John Muriello as Le Duc.
Hicks notes, “Regarded by many as ‘timeless,’ Romeo and Juliet have seen their story told and retold. In addition to films by Cukor, Zeffereli, and, most recently, Baz Luhrman (to name only a few), the play has inspired theatre works including plays and musicals the likes of West Side Story and The Fantasticks; orchestral works by Berlioz, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky; and operas by Vaccai, Benda, Bellini, Steibelt, Delius, and, most famously, Charles Gounod.
“In both the Shakespeare and the Gounod, the driving force behind these works is that of the power of love on the youthful mind. The singers who sing these roles (often in their mid- to late-twenties or early thirties) typically struggle to remember what it felt like to be in love for the very first time and the overwhelming power that often manifested itself as a type of intoxication. And, like intoxication, often led them to make decisions that their older selves may not make.
"To those skeptics who question the reality of lovers refusing to live without each other, I often remind them that this story occurs over four and a half days, the first of which is Juliette’s 14th birthday. Like most operatic characters, Roméo and Juliette are very young. Do you remember what it was like to be in love at that age?”
Other artistic contributors to the Roméo et Juliette production include scenery and costume designer Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer, Tony Award-nominated lighting designer Ed McCarthy, fight choreographer Jason Tipsword, dance choreographer Rachelle Tsachor, and ballroom dance coach Jane Cotterell.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (65 and over), $10 for youth (17 & under), and $5 for UI students (with valid UI ID). Tickets are available from the EnglertTheatre Box Office.
The School of Music is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For more information or special accommodations to attend, contact the school at 319-335-1603.