Charles Gounod

Roméo et Juliette

22. September 2019

PROLOGUE
A long time ago Verona was the site of a bloody, hate-filled feud and one great love.

One hot summer night. In Italy in the middle of August.

ACT 1
Capulet holds a party the night before his daughter Juliette’s wedding. Her chosen groom is Pâris, whom Tybalt assures that his cousin is a very good match who is bound to fall in love with him. Capulet presents Juliette to the guests.

Mercutio and Stéphano have brought their friend Roméo Montaigu along to the party, who has just split up with Rosaline. At the party Roméo feels unwell and describes a bad dream which Mercutio attempts to dispel with a ballad about the illusions conjured up by the legendary Queen Mab. The moment Roméo sees Juliette, he is enchanted by her. Meanwhile Gértrude attempts to convince her charge of Pâris’s virtues. But the prospect of having to marry plunges Juliette into desperation and panic: she wants to be able to live and enjoy her freedom.

Roméo starts flirting with Juliette, who finds herself increasingly drawn to this charming stranger. When Tybalt discovers them both, Roméo leaves. He realises he has fallen in love with her. Her father encourages his guests to carry on partying.


ACT 2
Roméo eavesdrops on Juliette talking to herself and discovers that she has also fallen in love with him. They both swear to love each other for ever. Grégorio and his friends are looking for Stéphano but only find Gértrude and treat her badly. Juliette wants to know whether Roméo really loves her.


ACT 3
Roméo and Juliette ask Brother Laurent for God’s blessing on their love. Gértrude, who has followed them, becomes a witness to their secret marriage. Stéphano is singing a song about a turtle dove kept prisoner in its nest by eagles when he is found by Grégorio and his friends. When Grégorio provokes Stéphano, Mercutio steps between them – only to be challenged by Tybalt. Roméo tries to convince Tybalt to rein in his anger. But any attempt to defuse the simmering conflict is hopeless. When Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio, Roméo loses control and kills Tybalt. The Duke of Verona arrives and banishes Roméo from the city. Roméo does not want to leave without seeing Juliette one last time.


ACT 4
The next morning.

Juliette forgives Roméo. She passionately affirms her love while Roméo starts having doubts. Only daybreak makes them part.

Juliette learns from her father that in accordance with Tybalt’s last wishes she is to marry Pâris that day. Brother Laurent gives Juliette a potion which will put her into a death-like sleep. Tybalt’s body has been laid out for the death vigil. Juliette is pursued by Tybalt’s ghost. She decides to make a stand against the marriage to Pâris. Roméo interrupts the wedding ceremony and reveals the truth: Juliette does not love Pâris. Roméo is thrown out. For Juliette all is lost in this hopeless situation. Capulet’s world also falls apart. His daughter is dead to him.


ACT 5
Roméo returns. He thinks Juliette is married and thus dead to him. He takes poison. Juliette does not know what to do and is horrified that Roméo has left none of the poison for her. For a moment they both remember the happy hours they spent in the last night together…

Recommendations