Petruzzelli: Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, on the podium Roberta Peroni

ph: Clarissa Lapolla

BARI – For the first time in Bari, today (Wednesday 14 September) at 8.30 pm at the Petruzzelli Theater, as part of the 2022 Opera Season, Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette will be staged, directed by Èric Ruf.

On the podium there will be Roberta Peroni, stage music director of the Petruzzelli Theater Foundation and not the Spanish conductor Jordi Bernàcer who tested positive at Covid.

Choir Master Fabrizio Cassi.

The costumes are by Christian Lacroix, the sets by Èric Ruf, the lighting design by Bertrand Couderc, the choreography by Glyslein Lefever.

The show is a Production of the Petruzzelli Theater Foundation in co-production with Opéra Comique de Paris, Opéra de Rouen Normandie, Le Bühnen Bern.

To bring the work to life:

Claudia Pavone (Juliette 14, 16, 18 September) Ani Yorentz (Juliette 15, 17 September), Ivan Magrì (Roméo 14, 16, 18 September), Mario Rojas (Roméo 15, September 17), Byung Gil Kim (Frère Laurent 14 , 16, 18 September), Ugo Guagliardo (Frère Laurent 15, 17 September), Christian Senn (Mercutio 14, 16, 18 September), Gustavo Castillo (Mercutio 15, September 17) José Maria Lo Monaco (Stéphano), Rocco Cavalluzzi ( Capulet),

Valerio Borgioni (Tybalt), Antonella Colaianni (Gertrude), Jungmin Kim (Le Duc de Véron), Murat Can Guvem (Benvolio), Marcello Rosiello (Gregorio), Carmine Giordano (Le Comte Pâris), Carlo Sgura (Frère Jean).

The show is scheduled from 14 to 18 September at the Petruzzelli Theater.

The premiere is on the bill tonight (Wednesday 14 September) at 20.30.

Repeats are scheduled for Thursday 15 and Friday 16 September at 20.30, Saturday 17 September and Sunday 18 September at 18.00.

Information: 0809752810.

ph: Clarissa Lapolla


Interview with director Éric Ruf

You directed the staging of Shakespeare’s original tragedy at the Comédie-Française and now you adapt it to Gounod’s opera: is it an absolute novelty?

The experience that was offered to me by the Opéra-Comique is precious: it is rare for a director to create the same work in the theater and at the opera. This is a project that has a dual approach, economic and ecological, since costumes, sets and of course the same artistic creation team as the production staged at the Comédie-Française are kept almost unchanged.

However, it is not a question of a repetition in the strict sense, one could instead speak of a progression. In the opera the number of people on the stage grows thanks to the presence of the choir and the dancers, moreover the opera singers enrich with further meanings what in prose is simple narration.

The characteristics of the operatic genre are very different from those of prose, especially as regards the temporal development of the stage action as well as the meaning of the musical interventions.

The authors of the libretto were based on an eighteenth-century elaboration of the work, while for my direction I preferred to stage a faithful translation of Shakespeare’s tragedy whose author is François-Victor Hugo. Perhaps the most notable difference is the astonishing resilience of opera singers compared to prose actors, when for example it comes to coping with Shakespearean “poison”. The former in fact still sing when the latter have long since finished having convulsions. For this reason in Gounod’s work, Juliette succumbs to the potion given to her by Frère Laurent right in the middle of the wedding ceremony, while in the prose version this happens long before her, or in the solitude of her maiden room.

Despite these substantial differences, during the preparation of the work I was pleasantly surprised by the many similarities I found in the dramaturgical ideas of Gounod and Shakespeare. This work also corresponds so well to my way of understanding Shakespeare’s tragedy, that it convinces me to face this adventure with great conviction.

The production of the Opéra Comique was created in 2015. In what spirit did you conceive it?

One of the artistic intentions of the Comédie-Française is to re-propose, however giving them new life, legendary works that are an integral part of the collective heritage, yet Roméo et Juliette was not represented there since 1954. Trying to understand the reasons for this long absence, I I realized that the myth is so alive in our collective memory that it has become self-sufficient, and therefore often very distant from the complex reality of Shakespeare’s work, returning only a vague and reworked shadow of what it really is. However, this distance fascinated me, just as I am fascinated by the richness of the collective imagination that is always built around the great classics of the repertoire. We often talk about the interpretative tradition of the actors, but in truth this also exists among the spectators. The many readings stratified over the centuries, engravings, paperback covers, films, operas, or even the idea of ​​the balcony in Rostand which he clearly borrows from Shakespeare’s tragedy … These complex stratifications alter the reading of the work and they make it lose its original form: the rudeness, richness and humor of Shakespeare’s lines are so filtered that they are almost erased.

To start this enterprise it was therefore necessary to go back to the origins, try to follow that creative direction inherited from the great director Patrice Chéreau: simply tell a story. Therefore I wanted to read Shakespeare’s verses in an absolutely literal way, trying to remove the many cultural filters, to eliminate the accumulated layers of “perceptive sediments” over time. Shakespeare possesses an extraordinary capacity for storytelling and Romeo and Juliet is an exceptionally rich work; moreover we are not talking about a stale and unique author, but about who created A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth put together.

To make this text fully perceived, it was necessary to shift attention, try to set it in an intermediate era, with an aesthetic sufficiently out of the original historical context and so contemporary, to allow the public not to be immediately distracted by a stylistic intention. , rather than letting oneself be carried away by history.

Hence the inspiration from Italy for the design of the scenes.

It is certainly Italy, but very poor, where the memory of the glories of a glorious civilization is clearly visible on the beautiful but crumbling walls. A southern Italy where the heat weighs on the squares and inflames the spirits, set in the historical period between the two world wars in which religious sentiment is extremely respected, where irrational fears and popular beliefs are still very much alive and where the quality of language it is even more perceptible, since it is not drowned in the moiré velvets and furs of the Renaissance, but crudely clashes with the lost grandeur of the peeling facades. It is also the Italy of vendettas and crimes that are handed down from generation to generation and for so long that it is no longer possible to go back to the ancient reasons for the antagonisms.

In the preparation of the Comédie-Française I have entrusted myself to a musical commentary taken from old Italian popular songs; listening instead to Gounod’s music, with its richness and melodies conceived by drawing on a sort of great “popular musical memory”, I could see that there was no creative inconsistency between one staging and another, but that on the contrary, they possessed their own interesting continuity.

In the theater, as in the opera and undoubtedly in the original performances at the Globe Theater, the scenography must adhere to a need for narrative fluidity. Nothing is ever immobile in Shakespeare’s work and any type of staging can present critical issues: in just two or three days Romeo and Juliet will meet, love and die. For this reason I imagined using towers in the scene, many pillars of ancient taste whose structural versatility can suggest the idea of ​​an agora, or an interior, or a labyrinthine path, each time tickling the imaginative capacity of the viewer. . Often the bridal chamber and the burial chamber have similar architecture, just as it did in the bedrooms of our ancestors, places where people were born, gave birth, died. In short, every important phase of life could happen indifferently under the same roof.

Stripped of its decorative romanticism, what does the myth of Romeo and Juliet finally tell us?

This myth stands above all for its devastating capacity. It is not necessary to understand this love, or to identify what its nature and origin is, but to recognize its mad rush. Romeo and Juliet are lovers who know well, albeit intuitively, how to give birth to love, however they know just as well that they will soon have to face death in a game in which each takes turns playing the role of Orpheus and his Eurydice. This reminds me of Pascal Quignard’s La nuit sexuelle, a work that these two lovers would have read with amazement. A mad love for the trenches, for civil wars. Consume everything until they are in turn consumed.

True romance is only permeated by this idea, that’s why it goes fast, because it lives and dies fast. This is why he has a young soul while not being naive at all. It also has a sense of animality, death, violence, blood within it. In fact, in this drama people fight with knives, kill themselves, bleed. For the last painting on the basis of these suggestions, I thought of Palermo and its catacombs, where the bodies of the dead are standing and dressed in their best dress, that of “Sunday”. A place where Juliet’s fresh beauty contrasts with the decrepit cheeks of those who preceded her in her tomb, probably also victims of centuries-old hatreds.

Tell us about the characters.

Romeo is perceived as a heroic and brilliant young man, but in reality he embodies the anti-hero par excellence, as he is the opposite of the ideal of a romantic lover or leader. He woos a girl named Rosaline until he meets Juliette and the love he feels for her allows him to escape the family yoke and her already sealed fate for a while. Juliette, on the other hand, has an incredibly strong and transgressive nature. In general, even if this aspect appears a little more attenuated in the work, each character presents a tension between its dramatic function and its interiority.

Taking on a collective joyful function in the drama, the chorus also serves Gounod to express this idea: each character is full of life and hope, none of them deserve to suffer the absurd violence and that deadly fate imposed on him by family revenge.

The work begins with a prologue that is performed on the proscenium with the curtain closed, by all the characters. This choice creates a direct contact between the actors of the drama and the audience, activating a quick and effective identification process. The interpreters

they remain on stage and with the curtain open, they enter their roles to take part in the dance of the first act. During the show the choir will also interpret the groups of the antagonistic families of the Capulets and the Montagues, using very simple gestures: a way of dressing up your hair or rolling up your sleeves. In showing them so clearly similar I wanted to highlight and underline how absurd was the profound hostility of their mutual behaviors.

Petruzzelli: Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, on the podium Roberta Peroni