“Roméo et Juliette” in Kentucky

Kentucky Opera


Friday, February 14 – 8pm & Sunday, February 16 – 2pm



Roméo et Juliette

Charles Gounod

Friday, February 14 – 8pm
Sunday, February 16 – 2pm

Star-crossed lovers meet at a family party only to be torn apart by feuding families and resolution comes at a high price. Shakespeare’s tragedy adapted into an opera by French composer Charles Gounod features Ava Pine as Juliette and Vale Rideout as Roméo.

The Cast


Ava Pine

Ava Pine* as Juliette


Vale Rideout

Vale Rideout* as Roméo


Gregory Rahming

Gregory Rahming* as Frère Laurent


Jesse Blumberg

Jesse Blumberg* as Mercutio


John Arnold

John Arnold+ as Count Capulet


Marco Cammarota

Marco Cammarota+ as Tybalt


Jill Phillips

Jill Phillips+ as Gertrude


Raqueil Fatiuk

Raquel Fatiuk+ as Stéphano


Ian Richardson

Ian Richardson+ as the Duke of Verona


Phillip Bullock

Phillip Bullock+ as Count Paris


Cesar Mendez-Silvagnoli

César Méndez-Silvagnoli + as Grégorio


Sergio GonzalezSergio González+ as Benvolio


Setting:  Verona, Italy in the 14th century

The chorus tells of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and of their children, the star-crossed lovers Roméo and Juliette.

ACT I – the grand hall in the palace of the Capulets
The Capulets are holding a masked ball.  Count Capulet arrives with his daughter and greets the guests.  Juliette is excited to attend the party (Je veux vivre).  The rival Montagues, including a masked Roméo and his friends, also arrive at the party.  Roméo’s friend Mercutio launches into a song about Queen Mab trying to convince Roméo to stay focused on the task at hand. It is then that the two meet and their attraction is instantaneous.  Tybalt is suspicious of the young man attracting Juliette’s attention and realizes that Montagues are at the ball.  Roméo and his friends make a quick exit.  Count Capulet tells Tybalt to remain civil and continues the ball.

ACT II – the garden of the Capulets
Roméo and his page Stéphano are hiding just below Juliette’s apartment.  Roméo sings of Juliette’s beauty as the purest, brightest star (Ah! lève-toi soleil).  As Roméo hides, Juliette appears on the balcony and reveals her attraction to him, even though he is a Montague. Roméo reveals himself and they pledge their love only to be interrupted by Capulets searching the gardens and then Juliette’s nurse, Gertrude.  They bid each other good night.

Part 1 – Friar Lawrence’s cell
Roméo, followed by Juliette and her nurse, arrives at Friar Lawrence’s cell.  The Friar hopes that the union of Roméo and Juliette will lead to peace between the two houses and agrees to marry the couple.

Part 2 – a street near the Capulet’s house
Stéphano provokes a fight with the Capulets (Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle) as a distraction.  Grégorio rises to the challenge drawing more Capulets and Montagues in the brawl.  Mercutio and Tybalt fight and Mercutio is killed.  In a fit of rage, Roméo kills Tybalt and the Duke of Verona banishes Roméo from the city.

ACT IV – Juliet’s room at dawn
After a night of passion, Roméo bids Juliette farewell before he is exiled (Nuit d’hyménée, O douce nuit d’amour).  Gertrude warns Juliette that her father is approaching with Friar Lawrence.  Count Capulet tells Juliet to prepare for her marriage to Paris immediately.  The Friar gives Juliette a potion that will make it appear as if she is dead then promises when she awakens, Roméo will be with her and they will flee together.  Juliette drinks the potion and on the way to marry Paris, she faints and all think she is dead.

ACT V – the tomb of the Capulets
Roméo has broken into the tomb and mourns Juliette’s death.  In despair, Roméo drinks poison just as Juliette begins to awaken.  Unaware that Roméo is dying, they sing of a new life together but Roméo falters and tells Juliette what he has done.  Unwilling to live without him, Juliette stabs herself with a dagger.  As the lovers die, they pray for God’s forgiveness.


Charles-François Gounod

Charles-François Gounod was born in Paris on June 17, 1818 to a Prix de Rome award winning painter François-Louis and his wife, a pianist.  He took piano lessons from his mother and eventually entered the Paris Conservatoire.  Gounod followed in his father’s footsteps by winning the Prix de Rome in 1839 for his cantata Fernand.  As part of the award, he stayed in Rome and studied sacred music.  Upon his return to Paris, Gounod became the music director of the Missions Etrangères church in 1843 and briefly considered joining the priesthood.  He decided instead to pursue composition, although would maintain an interest in sacred music until his death.  In 1854, he composed St. Cecilia’s Mass and the next year wrote two symphonies; his Symphony No. 1 in D Major would prove to be an inspiration for future student Georges Bizet’s Symphony in C.

Gounod revered Bach and used the C Major Prelude to set Ave Maria.   At the urging of mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot, Gounod tackled the world of opera with Sapho for the Paris Opéra but it was not well received.  After several more attempts, Gounod finally found the right mix of librettists (Jules Barbier and Michel Carré), story (Goethe’s 17th century classic Faust), producer (Léon Carvalho) and musical inspiration for the operatic version of Faust in 1859.  It was an immediate hit and his publisher made sure that the new opera was marketed internationally—a genius move that cemented the opera’s status as one of the most popular in the repertory.

Four more operas followed on the heels of Faust; Philémon et Baucis (1860), La Colombe (1860), La reine de Saba (1862) and Mireille (1864) but none met with much success.  But Gounod continued to work with his team of librettists and had long considered the idea of turning Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into an opera.  Gounod began work on the new opera in 1865 and his librettists decided to stick closely with the Shakespeare tragedy including some word for word translation into the French libretto.  Roméo et Juliette opened at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on 27 April 1867 during the Exposition Universelle and, like Faust, was an immediate success.

Gounod was a prolific composer and wrote many other works including oratorios, ballets, masses, instrumental, motets and songs.  In 1870, Gounod moved his family to England to escape the possible fall-out from the Franco-Prussian War.  By 1874, the Gounods moved back to France.  In 1888, he was named Grand Officer in the Legion d’Honneure (Legion of Honor) and he continued to compose, favoring more sacred music than secular in his later years including a mass inspired by Joan of Arc.  On October 18, 1893, Gounod died from a stroke in Saint-Cloud, France.  His operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette remain some of the most popular in the operatic repertory.  And surprisingly, a small instrumental piece Funeral March for a Marionette (1873) introduced new audiences to Gounod as the theme of the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Kentucky Opera
323 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202

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