CUA Opera to Present Gounod's ROMEO ET JULIETTE, 3/14-17


One of the most well-known operatic adaptations of a classic tale by William Shakespeare will be performed by the vocal division at The Catholic University of America's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, March 14 to 17.

"Romeo et Juliette," French composer Charles Gounod's operatic interpretation of literature's most famous star-crossed lovers, will be sung in the original French at Hartke Theatre on the campus of Catholic University. The opera in five acts premiered in Paris in 1867.

"There are no gimmicks or tricks in the staging," said director David Carl Toulson. "What I'm trying to do is tell the operatic version of the story of Romeo and Juliet in as clear a way as possible and really highlight the beauty of this quintessential couple."

Toulson is a prominent opera stage director who has worked with Catholic University before, most recently in last year's production of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." For Toulson, the impact of the show lies in the contrast between the beauty of the music and the love of the young couple, and the tragedy of their death.

Toulson said some of the principal ideas in the opera for him are predestination and love at first sight, themes that are often disregarded by modern audiences. "My feeling is, if Romeo and Juliet didn't meet on the day they met, the story would have happened anyway and the same set of circumstances would have played themselves out a week later or a month later," Toulson said.

This is not the first opera in French presented by the music school, according to Rick Christman, assistant clinical professor of voice. In recent years, the school has performed Poulanc's "La Voix Humaine" and "Dialogue of the Carmelites." However, both were shorter, one-act operas, and "Romeo et Juliette" represents the school's first effort at a full-scale French grand opera.