Opera: Romeo et Juliette

By Stephen Pollard, November 1, 2010

Royal Opera House

I have to confess to spending most of my time at the Royal Opera's revival of Gounod's Romeo et Juliette wondering why anyone would choose to pay good money to hear such third rate hackery.

But people do. Then again, there is a market for Lloyd Webber. His pieces, however, stand or fall on the public's willingness to pay for them. Not these performances, which are subsidised by you and me. Why?

Devoid of any dramatic merit, with instantly forgettable music (with the exception of Juliette's opening aria, Je veux vivre), Gounod's sugary tra-la-las are, on one level, perfectly inoffensive.

But productions such as this represent everything cringe-worthy about opera, with singers warbling like canaries to no dramatic purpose. This is not opera as the greatest of all dramatic arts. It's opera as a cure for insomnia.

If that is your thing, it is well enough sung by Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze and Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and Israeli conductor Daniel Oren clearly knows the score. But Nicolas Joel's production (revived by Stephen Barlow) makes not the slightest attempt to inject interest into the proceedings. A depressing evening. (Tel: 020 7304 4000)

Last updated: 5:25pm, November 10 2010