Revisit the tale of star-crossed lovers

A trail of black-hooded people walk down the artificial staircase created on the stage and  the hands of the conductor move swiftly. It is a signal to the 44 musicians of Orchestra Les Musiciens D’Europe to start playing their instruments for the opera Romeo & Juliet at Kamani Auditorium.

Presented by The Neemrana Music Foundation to pay tribute to its producer Francis Wacziarg, who passed away recently after a prolonged illness, the opera was one of the most sought-after performances in the Capital, over the last weekend, to catch Charles Gounod’s adaptation of the Bard’s famous romantic tragedy about a pair of star-crossed lovers.

The opera in five acts was performed over two and a half hours by 46 singers of The Neemrana Music Foundation Choir. It was delightful to see each character sing their part as an individual and add to the performance of the whole choir.

In the lead was Aude Priya (Juliet) who dominated the stage and overshadowed the rest. Her experience and expertise in lending her soprano   voice to fundamental characters was visible as she played Juliet - the embodiment of ‘love’ in the opera. But it was not easy for her to rehearse her part since her father (Francis Wacziarg) was hospitalised at that time.

“There was something in the character, may be its unhappy ending due to death, which was very moving,” says Aude when Metrolife asked her about her difficulty to get up and take a bow after the last scene.

Her beloved, Romeo (Amar Muchhala), however, paid too much attention to his tenor and disappointed with his mediocre act. Even those who played less significant parts such as the Friar (Paul Medioni), Stephano (Sparsh Bajpai), Tybalt (Prabhat Chandola) and Mercutio (Vikrant Subramanian) did a fine job of balancing their voice intonation and theatrical skills.

The stage design by Francoise Astorg was exemplary with minimal use of colour to project France of 1867, when the opera was first staged and allowed the huge ensemble to assemble together.

Certain moments in the performance, especially when Juliet’s room lit up and she came out on her balcony with a longing to hear Romeo, transport the audience into a fairy tale world, the experience enhanced by the aesthetically designed set.

The credit for letting the actors-cum-singers on stage to deliver their part in spirit goes to the orchestra members who occupy a part of the stage, the pit and even the space between the stage and the first row.

The violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, timbales harp and other instruments synergise to compose musical tunes that were the hallmark of this operatic show.

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