DIRECTOR’S NOTES

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I’m so excited to share this beautiful co-production of Gounod’s masterpiece with you! The collaboration between Valley Opera & Performing Arts (VOPA) and Mission Opera has been a dream, and working with this entire cast, crew, and production team from both companies has been so rewarding! Here’s a little bit about the production you’re about to see:

Shakespeare and opera have been a couple for a very long time. Verdi’s Falstaff, Otello, and Macbeth; Britten’s A Mid Summer Night’s Dream; and most recently, Adès’ The Tempest are just a few examples among many that illustrate the notion that opera and Shakespeare are a match made in Heaven. I think the most interesting aspect of Shakespeare’s prevalence in opera isn’t how operatically Shakespeare wrote, with his beautiful language and dramatic flair, nor is it how Shakespeare included music in his own productions. The interest for me lies in the TIME Shakespeare was writing. When Shakespeare was penning this heartbreaking tragedy at the height of English literary art, a thousand miles away in the heart of Italy in the bustling city of Florence, a new art form was being created — the greatest artform of all time, in my humble opinion — and that artform is opera. Yet, ne’er the two would meet for almost 100 years, when in 1692 Purcell wrote The Fairy Queen. To think that the musical adaptation that would change the very concept of how and why music was to be written and how and where music was to be performed was happening whilst the greater English language wordsmith was creating the plays that would so change the world, boggles the mind. It Is from this place of the Shakespearian mic drop in my head that this production of Romeo and Juliet was conceived.

You might notice that the set is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Globe theater. The reason for this is rooted in my early impressions of opera. As I studied the genre, I realized that opera and spoken plays are actually one in the same thing. Operas ARE plays. The only differences are that instead of speaking, we sing, and the composer has sought to express the subtext, the underlying meaning of the dialogue (another amazing operatic innovation) with music. Here we have endeavored to give you a true Shakespearean experience with an authentic locale (the original theater for which it was written), authentic costumes, and authentic drama. Please consider us a Shakespearean troupe. We have taken out all the pomp and circumstance (see what I did there) of the typical opera and replaced it with the heart and grit worthy of the Globe and the Bard.

Enjoy the show!

Dylan F. Thomas