Artscape Theatre is a favorite venue in Cape Town. Last night I attended a performance of I Capuleti e i Montecchi – The Capulets and Montagues. In this creative production, Cape Town Opera (CTO) collaborated with the University of Cape Town (UCT) Opera School to present Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini’s operatic work.
Vincenzo Bellini wrote I Capuleti E I Montecchi for the 1830 Carnival Season at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. It’s based on Shakespeare’s classic play and Italian dramatist Luigi Scevola’s tragedy Giulietta e Romeo. The opera was an enormous success and later appeared at King’s Theater in London as well as the Paris and Royal Swedish Operas.
I Capuleti has “endlessly long, melancholy vocal lines. In the first act finale Romeo and Juliet sing a long unison melody with only brief pauses for breath.”
Bellini cast the star-crossed lovers as soprano and mezzo-soprano featuring his “trademark sensuous duets”. As the opera opens, Romeo and Juliet have already met and fallen in love. The libretto by Felice Romani is a “reworking of Romeo and Juliet,” with a simplified story line. The soloists are Romeo, Juliet, Juliet’s father Capelio, physician Lorenzo, and Juliet’s betrothed Tebaldo.
Artscape Theatre – cape.town.co.za
“With his melancholy melodies, Bellini aims straight for our hearts, giving us not a moment’s doubt of the young lovers’ feelings for one another.”
The story of Romeo and Juliet inspired hundreds of operas. Shakespeare used life in the Renaissance Period to develop the plot for his play. Bellini’s opera applies “bel canto elegiac styleis” to emphasize the “poignant love story”.
UCT Opera School and CTO Young Artist Programme
The opera features a “youthful cast from UCT Opera School and CTO’s Young Artist Programme“. Jeremy Silver, Director of the UCT Opera School, conducts the UCT Symphony Orchestra. Steven Stead directs the performance and Marvin Kernelle is CTO Chorus Master. Michael Mitchell designed the costumes and set. Stage lighting is by Kobus Rossouw.
“Bellini’s opera spins out extended threads of wistful, longing song in passages that are among the best of the bel canto elegiac style.”
- Giulietta – Brittany Smith Soprano
- Romeo – Ané Pretorius Mezzo-Soprano
- Tebaldo – Tylor Lamani Tenor
- Lorenzo – Niël Stapelberg Tenor
- Capelio – Thando Zwane Baritone
- Cape Town Opera Chorus
- University of Cape Town Symphony Orchestra
The emotional two-act performance resulted in more than one tear in the audience. It was a total delight, BIG smile!