Notes and Editorial Reviews
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Here the iconic Verona opera – and Charles Gounod’s masterpiece – makes a superb comeback in the majestic setting of the Arena di Verona.
‘’Roméo et Juliette’’ had not been performed in the Arena since 1977. The new production was entrusted to Italian director Francesco Micheli, who opted for a personal, highly original version: “An arena within the Arena, like a blood-red Elizabethan theatre. A senescent world that will not let its own children live.”
Juliette is sung by Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze, in a return to one of her early roles at the Salzburg Festival. Stefano Secco, often heard at the
Opéra Bastille in Paris and other international venues, is Roméo. Artur Rucinski interprets Mercutio, Romeo’s friend and the rival of Jean-François Borras’s Tybalt. The page Stéphano is sung by soprano Ketevan Kemoklidze.
The Orchestra and Chorus of the Arena di Verona are conducted by Fabio Mastrangelo.
Director: Andy Sommer
Length: 177 min
Format: color, 16/9, NTSC Audio: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: French / English / German / Spanish / Italian
R E V I E W:
"In the last few years Stefano Secco has been rising in prominence in the lyrico-spinto tenor repertoire of later 19th-century operas, and based on this performance as Roméo he fully deserves it. The voice has a bright, brilliant timbre, heavier than Pavarotti but lighter than Domingo, with a pleasing sheen, a solid even vibrato, and a secure top that becomes freer once it is fully warmed up. His French diction is generally quite good, and he phrases and uses dynamic shadings expressively. As Juliette, soprano Nino Machaidze is generally an asset, if somewhat off her best form and a step or two below her partner in quality. Her voice has a more metallic timbre than is ideal for the part of a young girl; a slight unevenness in the vibrato of her very top notes works its way down through her entire upper register in acts IV and V as she becomes fatigued; and her indecipherable French diction is obviously schooled in the Dame Joan Sutherland Elocution Clinic For Swallowing Consonants. Still, her coloratura technique is secure, and even with more generalized sounds still manages to convey the thoughts and feelings of her character convincingly. Most surprisingly—indeed, a rarity of rarities—there is not a single weak voice in the entire supporting cast. Among the paternal figures, Giorgio Giuseppini offers a firm, if not particularly soft-grained and sympathetic, voice for Frère Laurent; Manrico Signorini is a somewhat diffuse-sounding but still sonorous and commanding Capulet; and Deyan Vatchkov is a suitably imposing Duke. Christina Melis offers a much younger and livelier Gertrude than is the casting norm, both visually and vocally, while Ketevan Kemoklidze dispatches Stèphano’s act III aria with spirit. Giampiero Ruggeri as Grégorio, Paolo Antognetti as Benvolio, and Nicolò Ceriani as Count Paris all fill their brief roles ably. I have deliberately saved the best for last; keep your eyes and ears open for newcomers Jean-François Borras and Artur Rucinski, who ought to be destined for first-rank stardom. While Rucinski has not previously been mentioned in these pages, both Raymond Tuttle (in 32:4) and Lynn René Bayley (in 34:4), especially the latter, rightly had good things to say about Borras in reviewing his turn as Alfredo in an otherwise forgettable DVD of Verdi’s La traviata. Both singers in their respective ranges have well-supported, exciting, gleaming voices with rapid but not overbearing vibratos that easily cut through full orchestral textures, conjoined in each to a virile, energetic stage presence that commands attention. Their respective brief arias are major highlights of this production. Fabio Mastrangelo turns in a stellar account from the podium, overcoming the auditory difficulties of an outdoor production as if they were non-existent to provide a lithe yet ardent interpretation, calling for Gounod’s beguiling melodies with a soaring sweetness that never turns the slightest bit saccharine. The orchestra and chorus are top-notch; the recorded sound itself is unfortunately a bit on the dry side. The score is given uncut and even includes the oft-omitted act IV ballet music."
FANFARE: James A. Altena
Works on This Recording
Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod
Manrico Signorini (Bass),
Gianpiero Ruggeri (Baritone),
Ketevan Kemoklidze (Mezzo Soprano),
Paolo Antognetti (Tenor),
Artur Rucinski (Baritone),
Jean-François Borras (Tenor),
Stefano Secco (Tenor),
Cristina Melis (Mezzo Soprano),
Nino Machaidze (Soprano),
Giorgio Giuseppini (Bass),
Deyan Vatchkov (Bass)
Verona Teatro Arena Orchestra,
Verona Teatro Arena Chorus
Written: 1867; France
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