Review: Romeo et Juliette, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Despite minor quibbles, Opera Ireland's production of Gounod's 'Romeo et Juliette' is most welcome.
Musically, the revival is eminently stylish through French conductor Jerome Pillement and the sensitive expression of US tenor Michael Spyres and French soprano Nathalie Manfrino in the title roles. The duo are the ideal interpreters of Gounod's tenderly sensuous vocal writing.
Youthful attractiveness also makes them perfectly suited as the ill-fated lovers, and lyrically unforced tone is the substantial ingredient of their tasteful realisation.
Imelda Drumm has panache in her rousing ditty as Romeo's page in Act III, while Paolo Battaglia's Frere Laurent, obviously suffering from a cold, anxiously mixes sacerdotal ritual and apothecary's compound.
Marcel Vanaud is the stentorian Count Capulet whose relationship to his daughter -- constantly cringing in his presence -- raises a questioning eyebrow.
Opera Ireland's chorus brings vital stimulus as the RTE Concert Orchestra offers vigorous, as well as delicate, accompaniments.
Under Annilese Miskimmon's direction, a large ornate double-storey cabinet dominates Leslie Travers' pealing-wallpaper set. This commodious monstrosity convincingly serves as balcony, boudoir, bedroom and sacristy.
Travers' dark-hued -- excepting Juliette's white -- costumes recall Second Empire Parisian creations. In Chris Davey's gloomy lighting they are difficult to fully appreciate.
But the evening triumphs in the refined artistry of Nathalie Manfrino and Michael Spyres.