Review: A ‘Roméo et Juliette’ Is Saved by Its Stars

Review: A ‘Roméo et Juliette’ Is Saved by Its Stars

Sometimes you simply want a couple of nice singers.

Two weeks in the past on the Metropolitan Opera, an excellent solid in “La Forza del Destino” outshone a brand new, considerably confused staging by Mariusz Trelinski. And now, Bartlett Sher’s good-looking but unconvincing 2016 manufacturing of Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” has returned to the home with a pair of singers in splendid type.

Sher’s staging situates the motion on a raised platform surrounded by stone facades and colonnades. Each sharply etched scene from Shakespeare’s tragic romance — the ball, the balcony, the bed room, the tomb — happens roughly in a city sq..

Beautifully lit by Jennifer Tipton and costumed by Catherine Zuber, the manufacturing runs out of concepts rapidly. But that doesn’t actually matter when you’ve singers on the order of Nadine Sierra and Benjamin Bernheim within the title roles. For an opera steeped in raptures and reveries, through which fantasies of romantic bliss compete with premonitions of a pessimistic final result, Sierra and Bernheim had been a dream on the revival’s second efficiency on Sunday.

Sierra was luscious, pretty and free all through her vary. Although her full, heat voice sounded a tad mature to painting a teenage woman, the disarming generosity of her sound conveyed a trusting, childlike high quality. Reluctant and bashful in Act I, with a naturally youthful demeanor, Sierra began Juliette’s waltz with a coy, plain-spoken high quality — a daring selection for the opera’s most well-known set piece — and rendered the coloratura with a plump tone.

Her ripe timbre signaled that she in all probability could be higher suited to the Act IV potion aria, and greater than that, she was stupendous. Once once more, she started the aria softly. Then it blossomed with Juliette’s fatalistic willpower and got here to a number of climaxes with an impressive collection of excessive notes that spun like liquid gold. Daring to glory in her sound, Sierra touched the operatic firmament. The applause went on and on.

Bernheim, each bit the poet-singer, put a succulent sound to elegant use, with transitions between vocal registers that had a buttery seamlessness. As a winsome lover, he rose to excessive notes of clarinet-like purity, and as Romeo matured right into a tragic determine, he unleashed excessive notes of brawny, capacious energy. Compared together with his Met debut in Verdi’s “Rigoletto” final season, his “Roméo” was silkier and extra dulcet.

In the supporting roles, Frederick Ballentine was an ingratiating Tybalt, with a contemporary and effervescent timbre. Will Liverman, as Mercutio, lit up his scenes with a richly textured, mettlesome baritone. The mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey introduced a cool, dramatic edge to Stéphano. Alfred Walker was a agency and lustrous Frère Laurent, and Eve Gigliotti, a merry Gertrude. The refrain’s prologue was luxuriant.

Pierre Vallet led Sunday’s efficiency, filling in for Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and dealt with it fantastically. Some imbalances threw off the opera’s delicate equilibrium, as within the brass-heavy finale. But elsewhere, massive, spherical brasses and crackling strings distinguished the overture, and mahogany-toned cellos pulsated with romance. Fleeting moments of presentiment had a thick, barely darkened solid.

The staging reaches the head of its laziness in the beginning of the ultimate act. Juliette, having collapsed after ingesting the potion that can make her seem lifeless, will get up and walks throughout the stage to put herself down within the Capulets’ crypt. But then, as all through the opera, one thing particular occurred when Sierra and Bernheim joined their voices.

Taking care with tonal mix is a typical sufficient incidence with a soprano and a mezzo, or a tenor and a baritone, however rarer with a soprano and a tenor. Bernheim’s reedier sound cradled Sierra’s opulent, barely scaled-back tone, exhibiting us that these younger, inexperienced lovers shared a deep and intuitive bond — one which wouldn’t be hampered by the condescension of their households or the boundaries of Sher’s middling manufacturing.

Roméo et Juliette

Through March 30 on the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan;



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