The story of the rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues is familiar to fans of Shakespeare. But a variation on the theme of the secret, doomed love between Romeo and Giulietta is explored in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of The Capulets and the Montagues (I Capuleti e i Montecchi).
Vincenzo Bellini's opera premiered in 1830 and looked to early Renaissance sources for inspiration. Unlike Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Bellini's work focuses as much on the conflict between the families as it focuses on the bond between the lovers.
The Lyric Opera brings a new production to the stage with Kansas City's Joyce DiDonato playing the role of Romeo. On a recent edition of Up to Date, DiDonato shared some of her thoughts about the production with KCUR's Steve Kraske.
Interview Highlights: Joyce DiDonato
On the opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi
I think the title says a lot. It's called I Capuleti e i Montecchi, which is The Capulets and the Montagues. That tells you right away that we are telling you the story of the families of this opera which means it's this tale of war essentially. These two families have been at war for a long time.
On Shakespeare vs. Bellini
The main differences in the first act. Romeo and Juliet are already in love, they've already been lovers. The balcony scene has already happened, the masked ball has already happened, and Juliet is being kept captive so Romeo is trying to find a way to get in and either broker peace between the families so they can be together, which fails miserably after the first few minutes, or steal her away.
By the time we get to the second act, we sort of join up to what we know as Shakespeare. There is the famous tomb scene. I think that is the most important part of the whole thing anyway and that will very much line up with what people will know.
On playing a "trouser role"
I just have to try and be true to it. I love playing young men on the stage. There's power involved in it that's great. Bellini, the composer, has done most of the work for me (in) the way he writes Romeo's lines. Juliet, you'll hear has very limpid music, very feminine and Romeo's can be very aggressive. I just have to walk a little more squarely and a little less gently which is that's fine with me (laughs).
The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents The Capulets and the Montagues (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), September 21- 29, 2013, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Missouri. 816-931-2232.