Tragedia lirica in two acts
The title is deceptive, because the names are the only things Bellini’s tragedia lirica
from the year 1830 has in common with Shakespeare’s drama. There may still be the feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets, with their star-crossed offspring, but what Bellini and his librettist Felice Romani produced is a typically romantic tale of heroism, along the lines of Lord Byron’s epics, with a hero taking arms against restrictive social structures and remaining true to his emotional ideals as an outsider and a rebel.
Romeo is just such a rebel – not a tenor, but rather a mezzo-soprano, with no interest whatsoever in preordained family ties, an individualist following his feelings and eager to go his own way. The famous melodie lunghe, lunghe, lunghe
lead directly to the tragic death with his beloved Giulietta. As horrifying and inexplicably revolutionary as it may have seemed to Bellini’s contemporaries, long practice has shown that replacing the final scene of the opera with Nicola Vanuzzi’s happy ending – is virtually unthinkable today.
Sung in Italian with German surtitles