Pop-Up Opera’s production of Bellini’s I Capuleti E I Montecchi is filled with wonderful vocals from the cast – but has a slightly unfinished feel about it.
Bellini’s interpretation of the classic love story Romeo & Juliet offers a very different view of the story. The Capulets and Montagues fight for control of Verona, while at the same time Capellio (head of the Capulet family) will not accept peace until his son’s death at the hands of Romeo is avenged. But there is a further complication: Romeo is involved with Capellio’s daughter Giulietta…
The production itself begins slowly, with a long opening sequence that helps to set the scene and to increase suspense – but plays out like a silent movie with only the beautiful playing of Berrak Dyer breaking the silence. It is effective in grabbing the audience’s attention but at the same time it increases impatience for the action to begin.
When the story does finally begin, there is great intensity and power in the performances – particularly from Eugene Dillon-Hooper as Capellio, whose strong and commanding vocals and intense characterisation really captures the action perfectly. There is also a captivating performance from Matthew Palmer as Lorenzo – a man of conscious who helps the lovers in any way that he can.
But what of Romeo and Giulietta themselves? There is no doubting the quality of the voices of Flora McIntosh (Romeo) and Clementine Lovell (Giulietta), but the characterisations feel slightly underdeveloped in places so it is difficult to warm up to them and feel sympathy for their situation as we should.
However, the production directed by James Hurley and musical direction by Berrak Dyer has plenty of drama and intent through the energy and pace – even if the overall quality of the production feels unfinished and more like a rehearsal, which is a shame considering the quality of the performances. But in this case, the quality of the performances isn’t quite enough to make the production an overwhelming success.
Yet, there are plenty of good ideas in this production – for example the hugely effective lighting, placing characters into shadow at times, adding an atmospheric quality to the action that allows the audience to concentrate on the power of the music. It is a very subtle production that never intimidates and in some ways is the perfect way to introduce people to opera who might not otherwise be interested.
Overall, the quality of the performances deserves applause, but the lack of finesse in the design for the production means that Pop-up Opera’s production can come across as too casual.
Pop-Up Opera will continue to tour their production of I Capuleti E I Montecchi until the 7th May. To find out more about the production and to book tickets for the remaining venues visit: http://popupopera.co.uk/whats-on/current/bellinis-capulet-montecchi/.