The unforgettable Benjamin Bernheim and Nadine Sierra in “Romeo and Juliet”, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York

Romeo (Benjamin Bernheim) and Juliet (Nadine Sierra) in “Romeo and Juliet”, by Charles Gounod, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York (United States), March 4, 2024.

The final bow has barely finished at the Metropolitan Opera in New York when there is already a row of chairs placed in front of the stage for a discussion on stage, in French “edge of the stage”, a brief meeting between artists and spectators at the end of a performance, the use of which is becoming widespread. For almost half an hour, conductor Pierre Vallet, director Bartlett Sher and the film’s two main roles Romeo and Juliet de Gounod, tenor Benjamin Bernheim and soprano Nadine Sierra, still dressed for the stage, will respond with good taste (and a welcome dose of humor) to the questions prepared by Peter Gelb, the head of the Metropolitan Opera.

Read the portrait (2024) | Article reserved for our subscribers. Las Sierras, sisters in the city, divas on stage

The curtain had not been lowered on the imposing stone sets imagined by Michael Yeargan, monstrous devourers of space, bearers of the straitjacket that weighs on the two Veronese families dedicated to discord and murder. An Italian city with severe walls, whose central square, lined with sumptuous palaces and dark alleys, will see the first meeting of lovers at the Capulets’ ball, the fight between young enemies, the secret marriage, then Juliet’s bedroom, tense by a large white sheet, finally the tomb of the Capulets, where Juliet and Romeo, exiled for having killed Tybalt (Capulet), murderer of Mercutio (Montaigu), will meet to die.

The rich period costumes designed by Catherine Zuber – the romantic Romeo in boots, a peplum and a white jabot, the seductive Juliet in a long, flowing dress – the narrative lighting by Jennifer Tipton and the vigorous fights set in the style of cape films and BH Barry’s sword, give the production an old-fashioned realism accentuated by the conventional acting direction of Bartlett Sher (a little haphazard in the crowd scenes), whose production is experiencing its third revival since 2016.

Stage commitment

As for supporting roles, the award goes to women. From Eve Gigliotti’s maternal and protective Gertrude to Samantha Hankey’s luxurious Stéphano, whose presence plays with the high notes that season her air of provocation. “What are you doing, white dove? » Both show a stage commitment, shared by their male counterparts: Will Liverman’s full of arrogance Mercutio, like Frederick Ballentine’s rapacious Tybalt. The only benevolent father figure is Alfred Walker’s brother Laurent, while Nathan Berg’s Capulet displays a slightly weary maturity, shared by Richard Bernstein as the Duke of Verona.

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