Virginia Opera, The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is proud to present “Romeo & Juliet,” a new level of artistic collaboration with our partner in this production, Opera Carolina.
The co-production marks the first time Virginia Opera has undertaken this intense level of collaboration, from concept to direction and from production design to casting. All elements have been jointly conceived by the two companies, which debuts first in Charlotte, NC prior to the seven fully-staged performances being produced on Virginia Opera stages across the Commonwealth. With a haunting score by Charles Gounod, and sung in French, the language perfectly suited to the passionate nature of the composition, audiences will be swept up in the familiar heartbreaking story of deception, joy, tragedy and true love all set to a moving score that highlights the story and elicits the audiences deepest feelings.
Director Bernard Uzan, returns to Virginia Opera for his fifth production and his 15th career “Romeo & Juliet,” including an earlier version in 1986. Leading a cast of international singers, featuring lovely French-Canadian soprano Marie-Eve Munger, who brings true native-speaking ability and passion to this French work in her Virginia Opera debut. Following significant engagements at La Scala and the BBC Proms, Ms. Munger boasts a substantial resume for such a young singer. She garnered acclaim from Opera News in the review of her first album, entitled Coloratura, where critics hailed her as displaying “a repertoire that showcases Munger’s crystalline high notes and virtuosity, as well as her intelligence, musicality and poetic sensitivity.” Her Romeo will be portrayed by the handsome Jonathan Boyd, making his triumphant return as Virginia Opera audiences will recall from his earlier work on Virginia Opera stages as Rodolfo (La Bohéme 2003). Since then, his career has taken him around the globe and earned him consistent praise for his “ruggedly masculine,” “sweet, bright tone” and for his “great tenderness,” a hallmark of a loving Romeo.
Conductor James Meena, General Director and Principal Conductor of Opera Carolina, will bring the production to Virginia Opera stages following the opening performances last weekend at his own hall, the Belk Theater, in Charlotte, NC. Fairfax performances will be conducted by Central City Opera’s Music Director John Baril.
In his debut on the company’s stages, Virginia Opera is pleased to welcome Kevin Langan portraying the key role of Frère Laurent. The New York Times cites his “deep, toffee-smooth voice and convincing interpretive abilities,” which have earned him a sterling reputation as a leading performer in opera and concert with international audiences.
In the role of Capulet, audiences may recall Egyptian baritone Ashraf Sewailam from his lauded performances on Virginia Opera stages (Aida 2011). Opera News describes his voice as “purring and velvety with an easily produced Ramfis-like top range with a majestic tone,” and his stage presence as “strong, mysterious and with mesmerizing intensity.”
Returning in key roles are Virginia Opera Herndon Foundation Emerging Artists Keith Brown and Kyle Tomlin. Audiences will recall Kyle Tomlin’s energetic portrayal of Mercury in the company’s season opener Orpheus In the Underworld, as well as Keith Brown’s moving portrayal of Colline in the recent sold-out performances of La Bohème.
“Romeo & Juliet” is an opera based on the original play by William Shakespeare. Set in 16th century Verona, the story unfolds of the star-crossed lovers – two young people from warring families pitted against one another in an age-old feud that cannot be ignored. Will their love triumph? Most everyone is familiar with the ending, but Director Bernard Uzan urges audiences to keep an open mind and “come to be surprised.”
President and CEO Russell Allen stated, “Virginia Opera is proud to have developed an exciting new production with Opera Carolina that will continue to live following its Virginia appearances with further performances in Toledo, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Baltimore, Maryland. We know that our Virginia audiences will find this traditional rendition of this classic opera to be vibrant and sumptuous; and emotion-packed to the highest level.”
“Romeo & Juliet” will be performed in French with English supertitles. Performances will feature a free 30-minute pre-opera discussion by Virginia Opera’s Dr. Glenn “Dr. Opera” Winters. Tickets start at just $19 and are available at vaopera.org or by calling 866.673.7282. “Romeo & Juliet” opens Friday, February 5, 2016 at the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, Va.