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O'Reilly Theatre, National Opera House

The tragic story of the two star crossed lovers condemned to die by the rivalry of their two families, is recreated in Bellini’s opera and gives us a plot of overwhelming topicality.

Opera in two acts
Libretto by
Felice Romani
Music by Vincenzo Bellini

First performance 11 March 1830, Teatro La Fenice, Venice

Sung in Italian with English surtitles


ConTempo quartet
Bogdan Sofei | violin
Ingrid Nicola | violin
Andreea Banciu | viola
Adrian Mantu | cello

Giulio Zappa | piano

The tragic story of Romeo and Juliet has fascinated many writers and even the Bard was inspired by illustrious predecessors that date back to Greek literature, including a mention in Dante’s Divina Comedia.

The most evident literary source is the Novelle by Matteo Bandello who partly inspired Felice Romani when he wrote the libretto for Nicola Vaccaj’s Romeo e Giulietta.

When the impresario Lanari offered the young Bellini the opportunity to provide an opera for the 1830 Carnival season, Romani adapted his existing libretto for the young Sicilian.

Bellini pays homage to the custom of the time, of entrusting a young male character to a female singer and so the two protagonists are played by a soprano and a mezzo soprano.

The Plot

Capellio Capuleti refuses to allow his daughter Guilietta to marry Romeo of the Montecchi clan.

He orders that her marriage to Tebaldo should go ahead immediately but Romeo and his supporters enter the city and disrupt the marriage celebrations.

Giuletta is informed by Lorenzo, the family doctor, that the only way to secure her freedom from Tebaldo is to take a sleeping draught that will give the impression that she is dead, with the ingenious idea that she will be revived in the family vault where he and Romeo will be waiting. The plan backfires when Lorenzo is arrested.

Romeo then believes Giuiletta to be dead and takes poison, but as he lies dying Giuletta awakens.

Lorenzo rushes in, hoping to avert a tragedy but too late.

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