Austin Opera’s 2014-15 Season invites you to witness the love struck tragedy of Charles Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet, based on the Shakespeare classic.
The epitome of romance! Join us for this tantalizing production, featuring an ornate set, classical costumes and powerful vocal talents. We open this fateful classic with a masked ball, where Romeo is first taken with Juliet’s beauty. Their love is further affirmed when Romeo famously declares his devotion to Juliet outside her balcony.
But, as the tale goes, Romeo and Juliet’s quarreling families prevent their love from blossoming. Subsequently, the two star-crossed lovers attempt to defy their feuding families but fail as Romeo takes his life before his seemingly dead beloved only to see her awaken. Distraught, Juliet elects to dramatically join her love in death.
Learn more about Principal Artist Stephen Costello, our Romeo, and his amazing rise to fame in the opera world.
Stage Director, Doug Scholz-Carlson takes you on a journey filled with classically rich furnishings from the Utah Opera, domineering family alliances and heartrending duets. The Renaissance-era setting, which is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, will transport you out of The Long Center and deep into the lives of these tragic characters you’ve just met.
The Opera, whose libretto follows the story of Shakespeare’s play, first debuted in 1867 at Paris’ Théâtre Lyrique and was hailed as a major success. This crowd favorite provides a full range of emotions with moments of intense passion, fierce duels with harrowing catastrophe. Charles Gounod’s five act Romeo & Juliet will leave audiences overcome by beauty, emotion and tragic demise.
Romeo & Juliet will feature the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.
Romeo & Juliet will be sung in French with the English translation projected above the stage, in five acts. There will be two intermissions.
Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.
Romeo – Stephen Costello
Juliet – Joyce El-Khoury
Friar Laurence- Peter Volpe
Mercutio – Luis Orozco
Stephano – Ellie Jarrett
Capulet – David Small
Gertrude – Cindy Sadler
The Duke – Matthew Trevino
Tybalt – Jason Baldwin
Paris – Greg Jebaily
Benvolio – Brian Joyce
Gregorio – Brett Barnes
Composer: Charles Gounod | Libretto: Jule Barbier and Michel Carré | Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Douglas Scholz-Carlson | Chorus Master: Marc Erck | Scenic Designer: Eric Fielding | Costume Designer: Susan Allred | Lighting Designer: Kathryn Eader
More about our Principal Artists:
Stephen Costello, tenor singing Romeo – The Philadelphia-born tenor quickly established a reputation as a first-class talent after coming to national attention in 2007, when, aged 26, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Two years later Costello won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, and he has since appeared at many of the world’s most important opera houses and music festivals, including London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Deutsche Oper Berlin; the Vienna State Opera; and the Salzburg Festival.
Last season Costello made his Washington National Opera debut with a reprise of Greenhorn in Moby-Dick, while the San Francisco Opera’s presentation of the Heggie/Scheer opera, in which the tenor made his house debut, was televised nationwide on PBS’s Great Performances and subsequently released on DVD. Other highlights of 2013-14 included Costello’s Houston Grand Opera debut as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto, in which he proved himself “one of the best lyric tenors in the business”(Theater Jones) and his return to Covent Garden for Alfredo in La Traviata.
Rigoletto, Houston Grand Opera: “Costello, in his Houston Grand Opera debut, was the sensation of the night, starting strong and finishing brilliantly… Costello is a hot item right now, and I understand why.” -Theodore Bale, Culturemap Houston
Romeo & Juliet, San Diego Opera: “When Costello holds his gorgeous high notes just a few beats longer without the slightest sense of strain—now that is why folks come to the opera! His eager, athletic singing in the balcony scene—not to mention his erotic edge in the nuptial duet rolling about Juliet’s curtained four-poster—combined with his idiomatic command of the French operatic style make me doubt there is another tenor singing today better suited to this role.” – San Diego Arts
Joyce El-Khoury, soprano singing Juliet – Recently nominated for an International Opera Award as best “Young Singer”, Joyce El-Khoury is rapidly establishing herself as one of the major singing actresses in the world today. During the 2013-14 season, she made her role debut as Musetta in La Bohème with the Canadian Opera Company, in a production that had her alternating this role with Mimi.
Future engagements include Violetta in La Traviata at Lyric Opera of Kansas, Pauline in Donizetti’s Les Martyrs with Opera Rara in Royal Festival Hall, Mimi in a new production of La Boheme with Dutch National Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with the Vancouver Opera, Leonora in Il Trovatore with Knoxville Opera, and the title role in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Ms. El-Khoury is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. She is a First Prize winner in many competitions including: the Loren L. Zachary Competition, the Opera Index Competition, the George London Foundation, and the Mario Lanza Vocal Competition.
Carmen, Santa Fe Opera: “Joyce El-Khoury lends her rich soprano to Micaëla, Don Jose’s hometown sweetheart, who, despite her peasant garb, may perhaps be too glamorous for a country girl (though no complaint there). Her act three aria, “Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante,” in which she voices her determination to rescue Don Jose despite all obstacles, is a marvel of impassioned, heartfelt singing.” -D.S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal News
La Triviata, Amesterdam Opera: “Preceded by a lauded reputation, the young Joyce El-Khoury did not disappoint our expectations. The Canadian soprano, taking over the role of Violetta Valéry in May at Amsterdam Opera, is a gorgeous Violetta, with whom we immediately identify, and who fully embraces her character. Her timbre is beautiful, vocal technique already trained, the range is controlled from beginning to end, and she knows how to capture her audience by enveloping them with light or heartbreaking vocal lines, as in the sublime “Addio del passato”, that combine both fear and fragility….it is indisputable that she is one of the major Violettas today.” —Concerto.net (France)
Peter Volpe, bass singing Friar Laurent – American bass Peter Volpe is a consummate artist of today’s operatic world whose acclaimed vocal and acting ability captivates audiences and critics across four continents. Mr. Volpe’s inspired style and interpretive skill enlivens his repertoire of more than 100 roles in six languages, including signature roles of Don Giovanni, Mephistopheles, and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin. Of a recent portrayal as Prince Gremin, Opera News wrote that he “managed to create in his single aria and scene an impressive dignity. His full-bodied bass and great candor of tone, together with his intelligent interpretation, won him a well-deserved ovation”
Recent highlights of Mr. Volpe’s career include three broadcasts for the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (with Il tabarro and Suor Angelica), Rossini’s Armida, and Verdi’s La Traviata, the Verdi Requiem at the Chichester Festival in Chichester, England, and the popular French grand opera Les Huguenots in the role of Marcel at the Bard Festival; the first time the opera was staged in America since the Metropolitan Opera’s production 95 years earlier
Faust, Vancouver Opera: “Bass Peter Volpe, proved to be an excellent Mephistopheles, both vocally and dramatically, shining from his first big moment – Le veau d’or est toujours debout – onward. Volpe balanced the demonic and comic elements of his character, and the audience responded to his sardonic wit with outbursts of laughter.” -The Globe & Mail
Don Giovanni, Portland Opera: “Don Giovanni, sung by Peter Volpe, is certainly good company, as well as irresistible to women. He is totally believable and has his technique honed to a fine edge” -Portland Press Herald
David Small, baritone singing Capulet – David Small enjoys an established and continuing career on the operatic and concert stage. Equally comfortable with comedy or drama, his repertoire is richly varied, including performances of well over fifty different operatic roles. Additionally, Mr. Small has been teaching at the University of Texas at Austin for the past fifteen years and was selected by NATS as a Master Teacher in 2011.
In 1991, he debuted his Figaro in Il Barbiere Di Siviglia for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City with great success and subsequently has enjoyed over one hundred performances of the role. He made his Austin Opera debut in this signature role in 1998 and repeated it for ALO in the 2007 season.
Carmina Burana, Meyerson Symphony Center: “Standout of the three vocal soloists was David Small, his baritone pleasantly textured, his declamation vivid…” –The Dallas Morning News
Rigoletto, Sacramento Opera: “The title role calls for acting and singing that can convey the fraught inner dialectic of a man whose venal nature wrestles with the altruism of fatherhood… With his high-lying baritone (Small) connected and channeled the delicate and intimate emotions of fatherhood. Small was effective in selling the father-daughter relationship, especially in the concluding duet of the scene.” –The Sacramento Bee
Brett Barnes, baritone signing Gregorio – Austin’s own Brett Barnes returns, bringing his considerable stage experience back to Austin Opera audiences. Mr. Barnes, a local favorite and standout, performs regularly with with Texas Early Music Project, Conspirare and frequently on the Long Center stage with Austin Opera.
Synopsis courtesy of Romeo & Juliet stage director, Douglas Scholz-Carlson.
Verona, fourteenth century. A chorus chants of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and of their children, the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.
At a masked ball at the Capulet palace, Juliet’s arrival is eagerly awaited by her cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris. Capulet presents his daughter, the revelers exclaim at her beauty, and Juliet rhapsodizes on her joy. The host leads his guests off just as Romeo, a Montague, and his friends, all masked, steal into the ballroom. Romeo, in love with a girl named Rosaline, is reluctant to come to the ball. His friend, Mercutio, encourages Romeo to look at other beauties by launching into a song about Queen Mab, the mistress of dreams. Suddenly Romeo sees Juliet. As she sings of the freedom of youth, Romeo shyly approaches her, asking if his hand may touch hers. Tybalt returns just as Juliet tells her name to Romeo, who masks himself and rushes off. Tybalt identifies the intruder as Montague’s son, but Capulet restrains him, ordering the party to continue.
Later that night, Romeo hides until Mercutio and other friends stop calling for him. Then he apostrophizes Juliet as the sun, the purest, brightest star. The girl steps forth on her balcony to lament her attraction for an enemy, and Romeo comes forward. The two ecstatically pledge their love but are interrupted by some Capulets searching for a Montague page. Then Romeo and Juliet tenderly bid each other good night.
20 MINUTE INTERMISSIONS
At Friar Laurence’s cell, Romeo appears at daybreak, followed by Juliet and her nurse, Gertrude. The priest agrees to marry the young lovers in the hope that their union will end the feud between their families. Thinking his master, Romeo, is trapped in the Capulet’s house, Romeo’s page, Stephano, sings a mocking song to provoke the Capulet’s to come out and allow Romeo to escape. Gregorio and other Capulet retainers attack Stephano. Mercutio protects him and is challenged by Tybalt. Romeo tries to make peace, but Tybalt insults him. Mercutio duels Tybalt and is slain, whereupon Romeo kills Tybalt. The Duke of Verona stops the bloodshed, banishing Romeo from Verona.
15 MINUTE INTERMISSIONS
At dawn in Juliet’s bedroom, the lovers exchange words of adoration before Romeo reluctantly leaves for exile. Capulet and Friar Laurence greet Juliet with news that she is to wed Paris that very day, but the priest gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear dead. He promises that she will wake with Romeo beside her.
Romeo gets word that Juliet is dead. He returns to her tomb in Verona. In despair he takes
poison, only to see Juliet awaken. They hail a new life, but Romeo soon falters. He bids
farewell to the frantic girl, who grasps his dagger and stabs herself. The lovers die praying for