Opera Breve and Savage God (Vancouver)
with Teatro Corleone (New York City)

A benefit performance for the Wallace Leung Scholarship Fund.
I Capuleti e i Montecchi
by Vincenzo Bellini
libretto by Felice Romani
with text from William Shakespeare
adaptation by Hayden De Witt

Dates: 12, 13, 14 September 2003
Venue: St. Paul's Anglican Church

Reviewer: Jane Penistan


Conductor  Neil Weisensel Metteur en scene John Juliani Costume coordinator Kirsten McGhie Costumes Lisa Hunter Original costumes Linda Glusing Lighting Leighton Wong

Narrator/Lorenzo  Alessandro Juliani Tebaldo  Philip Grant
Capellio  Richard de Villier Romeo Hayden De Witt
Giulietta Evelyn Thatcher Pianist Donna Falconer

Although John Juliani is no longer with us in person, he is very much with us in spirit in this production of I Capuleti e i Montecchi. This is his latest contribution to his long list of help to young performers, one of his legacies to Canadians. John's vision and driving force will be missed in this community, but his many achievements will be remembered and his spirit will continue to inspire all who knew him.

First performed earlier in June of this year, I Capuleti e i Montecchi is one of John's last successful productions. This repeat performance was even more breathtakingly beautiful than the previous one.

Though not the same narrative as Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare"s speeches which Hayden De Witt has introduced into the Romani libretto were spoken, linking scenes and keeping the audience aware of what was taking place on stage. This was helpful to a non-Italian speaking audience who are accustomed to surtitles, and do not want to try to read the translated libretto. On Friday evening the performance was so rivetting that any thought of following a libretto was non-existent.

The Guelphs and the Ghibellines are at war. In a battle, Romeo has killed Guelph Capellio's nephew. Romeo, disguised as an envoy, sues for peace, suggesting Giulietta be married to Romeo to seal the pact. Against Lorenzo's advice, Capellio insists on revenge. Tebaldo swears to support Capellio, and is betrothed to Giulietta. Led by Lorenzo, Romeo secretly visits Giulietta and begs her to elope with him, but she is bound by honour to obey her father and sadly prepares for her wedding to Tebaldo. Romeo leads a





successful assault and there is a battle. Lorenzo persuades Giulietta to drink a potion which will give her the semblance of death and that Romeo will be with her when she revives. Believing Giulietta dead, Romeo drinks poison. Giulietta wakes to find Romeo dying and kills herself with his dagger.

Donna Falconer's inspired and powerful piano playing was fully expressive of Belllini's passionate and emotional score. The exquisite singing of Hayden De Witt and Evelyn Thatcher as Romeo and Giulietta was truly bel canto, but did not lack drama, passion or tenderness. They were well supported by Richard De Villier's irate and belligerent Capellio, father to Guilietta, Philip Grant as Tebaldo, Giuletta's betrothed, and Lorenzo (Alessandro Juliani), the family doctor.

The cast was richly and colourfully dressed and the fights well choreographed. The acting area glimmered with green, gold and red candle lanterns, complementing the costumes and the windows of the church, while the major lighting was unobtrusive and adequate.

This very successful ensemble of Opera Breve, (Vancouver) Savage God and Teatro Corleone (New York City) leaves a desire for more of the outstanding work which these companies and cast have exhibited here.

Contributions to the Wallace Leung Music Scholarship can be sent to The Vancouver Academy of Music, 1270 Chestnut Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 4R9, marked Wallace Leung Music Scholarship.

2003, Jane Penistan