Roméo et Juliette - Liceu

Charles Gounod

2h 38
Spanish , English

El Gran Teatre del Liceu estreno la ópera Roméo et Juliette el 14 de febrero de 2016, una coproducción entre el Liceu y The Santa Fe Opera dirigida por el británico Stephen Lawless y bajo la batuta del maestro Josep Pons. La versión operística de Charles Gounod del clásico de Shakespeare no se veía en el Liceu desde 1985 y se estrenó con un reparto encabezado por la soprano rusa Aida Garifullina como Juliette y el tenor albanés Saimir Pirgu como Roméo acompañados por la Orquesta Sinfónica y el Coro del Gran Teatre del Liceu.


Esta reciente producción sitúa la acción original en el contexto de la Guerra Civil de los Estados Unidos (1861-1865), una decisión del director Stephen Lawless para transportar los tiempos de Shakespeare a la época de Gounod. En palabras del propio director, la versión operística de este clásico universal “se convierte en una obra diferente y diversa que comienza a salir del molde shakespeariano y que imprime un toque francés a la fugacidad y el ingenio del original”. El director ha querido situar a los amantes en un marco mortuorio que condicionará fatalmente su destino desde el inicio de su enamoramiento.

Música de Charles Gounod y libreto de Jules Barbier i Michel Carré
Dirección de escena Stephen Lawless
Dirección musical Josep Pons
Producción Gran Teatre del Liceu y The Santa Fe Opera

Juliette Aida Garifullina
Stéphano Tara Erraught
Gertrude Susanne Resmark
Roméo Saimir Pirgu
Tybalt David Alegret
Benvolio Beñat Egiarte

Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro del Gran Teatre del Liceu




Teatro Real
Charles Gounod
Dan Ettinger, Àlex Ollé

The Teatro Real opened its 2018/19 season with a new production of Faust by Charles Gounod, the version of the German legend in a grand opera format. Piotr Beczala as protagonist - the figure of relentless ambition par excellence - and Marina Rebeka sing the role of Marguerite. Àlex Ollé directs this captivating opera after his recent success of The Flying Dutchman in this theatre It will be the third time that La Fura dels Baus stages the Faustian legend.



Teatro Real
Giuseppe Verdi
Renato Palumbo, David Alden

David Alden approaches the setting of Othello from the point of view of Giuseppe Verdi’s adaptation of the Shakespeare text. In the first act of the play, which Verdi omits, we see the great love of Desdemona, a young, beautiful woman of the Venetian upper class, for the rough-mannered and hot-tempered foreign soldier Othello. Her father, the patrician Brabantio, opposes their love. In the first act he asks how his daughter could have chosen to “run from her guardage to the sooty bosom of such a thing as thou, to fear, not to delight.”


Desdemona’s love for Otello is even thought to be a thing of magic. In contrast, Otello’s love for Desdemona is perfectly logical: Desdemona is so refined, so white, so aristocratic and so devout that anyone could understand why Otello would fall in love with her. They love each other, but their difference in social standing is undeniable. And these differences will be how the resentful, devilish Lieutenant Iago is able to wreak his vengeance on his General, Otello, for not promoting him to Captain as he had hoped.


This vengeance requires a minimum of effort, because all he really has to do is convince Otello of what everyone else already believes: such a gentlewoman could never really love someone like him. Consequently, it is very easy for him to make Otello believe that Desdemona has fallen in love with a man of her own rank, Cassio, whom Iago describes as the antithesis of Othello. And so, despite Otello’s noble soul - even though Desdemona truly loves him, even though Cassio is loyal and honourable -, Iago’s insinuations take root and Otello believes that Desdemona is unfaithful to him.


In the play, Shakespeare explains the action through the theme of racism, this is the driving force of the tragedy. But both the librettist, Arrigo Boito, and Verdi understood that the drama could be even more intense if racism played a less prominent part.  The focus was put on the fragility of a character who physically differs little from any of the others; a vulnerable character who is dominated by inner turmoil. Thus Verdi reduces racism to a marginal issue which is scarcely mentioned. David Alden takes a similar approach: Otello is an outsider; he is “other” because that is how he feels inside. He need not be black or physically different from the other characters.


His conflict is internal: insecurity, that which has led so many men to commit the worst atrocities. We watch with horrified fascination the tragic disintegration of the hero, locked into the destructive cycle of destiny. The set design suggests a courtyard in Cyprus, but above all, this is a militarised, brutal world with dehumanised soldiers in a war which prevents them from responding to love or tenderness. In this context, Otello brings us face-to-face with one of the most secret human fears: to not feel worthy of what one loves most.


Renato Palumbo, who has conducted Les Huguenots, Tosca and La Traviata at the Real, returns with another Verdi classic with the Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, much acclaimed for her performance in La Traviata in 2014. She is accompanied by tenor Gregory Kunde, whose interpretation of the difficult role of Otello is one of the most highly regarded. He also opened the 2016 season at the Teatro Real to great applause for his Roberto Devereux. Alongside them as the cruel and crafty Iago is baritone George Petean, who brought the 2016 season to a close in the opera I puritani.

Teatro Real
Richard Wagner
Ivor Bolton, Kasper Holten

Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) is an opera composed by the young Richard Wagner, still in the process of finding his own musical language. After finishing The Fairies, his first completed opera, which was never performed, Wagner was able to present his second one on March 29, 1836 in Magdeburg, but this would be the only performance of the opera in his lifetime. The première was a complete disaster: some of the singers had not learned their parts, and the second night was cancelled when the prima donna’s husband attacked one of the tenors in a fit of jealousy. Wagner gave up further attempts to stage the opera and consigned it to oblivion, describing it as a “sin of my youth”


With such a history it is hardly surprising that Das Liebesverbot has been unfairly considered a minor work by the great German composer. However, this unknown piece is interesting for many reasons. The Ban on Love is an opera that challenges many of our assumptions about Wagner’s music and it is certainly a far cry from its typical density and depth. This work is the young Wagner’s equivalent to Goethe’s Italian Journey: an exaltation of the warm south, sunshine, playfulness, sex, and hedonism.


For the text of the opera, Wagner decided to adapt Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a play which was then rarely performed because it was regarded as immoral. Making substantial changes to the original plot, the composer presented a stinging critique of the puritanism of contemporary German society.


Wagner moves the action to Sicily, where the Regent is Friedrich, a rigid German ruler who is unable to understand the joie de vivre of the locals. He decides to discipline them by banning Carnival, brothels, cabarets, and love outside marriage.


The musical influences on the work are quite clear. Wagner, reacting against the “pedantry” and “erudition” around him, celebrates and pays homage to the virtues of Italian music with frenetic rhythms, vibrant, powerful melodies full of character, a certain interest in repetition and simple harmonies. His admiration for composers like Bellini and Rossini can be seen in moments that are almost direct quotes of Il barbiere di Siviglia or Guillaume Tell. There is also a strong French influence in the format of the comic opera and the most characteristic grand operas of the period, such as La Muette de Portici, by Auber, and Robert le Diable, by Meyerbeer.


Another interesting point to note is that the score of this opera already hints at Wagner’s future work. There is a great deal of Lohengrin in it, and the character of Ponzio Pilato is clearly a forerunner of Mime. The Ban on Love is also the first time that Wagner used the leitmotif technique structurally, especially the theme of the ban on love decreed by Friedrich This recurs throughout the work, alternating between solemn and ironic.


In short, this is a little-known but interesting work which is well worth discovering. It provides considerable insight into the development of the mature Richard Wagner. To commemorate the 4th Centenary of the death of Shakespeare, it would be hard to find a more appropriate piece.

Teatro Real
Jacques Offenbach
Sylvain Cambreling, Christoph Marthaler

In this new version of Les contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach, Nicklausse, the muse and alter ego of Hoffmann, sings at the end of the opera: “On est grand par l’amour, mais plus grand par les pleurs” (Love makes us great, but weeping makes us greater still). This is a motif by who was considered “the ever-entertaining Offenbach”, however the composer’s artistic concept is linked to the Romantic movement from Victor Hugo via Berlioz to Thomas Mann, where art and inspiration develop from the suffering and melancholy of human life. This makes Offenbach’s only full-length opera a unique creation where art triumphs over the pain of love.


*Title only available in non-EU countries, with the exception of Spain
Teatro Real
Charles Wuorinen
Titus Engel, Ivo van Hove

There are many parallels to be found between this work, which will have it's world première at the Teatro Real, and Tristan und Isolde. Just as in the opera by Richard Wagner, we are presented with a love on a cosmic scale, and one that is rejected by society. It is a love story set in a stunning landscape of mountains, only to be destroyed by society's expectations, just as in Wagner's opera. Annie Proulx, the author of the book of the same name, wrote the libretto so that the music by Charles Wuorinen could transcend the message of the film. Wuorinen himself states that nature in the opera is, "a constantly menacing, deadly force."