Friends know that I cringe at the thought of Gounod’s Faust, but I rather like Roméo et Juliette and am looking forward to the Met’s imminent revival starring Benjamin Bernheim and Nadine Sierra. Chris’s Cache previews it with three pairs of doomed lovers: for me, Alain Vanzo is always a must (here paired with his frequent co-star Andrée Esposito); Veriano Luchetti and Jeanette Pilou; and Neil Shicoff with Sylvia Sass.

The Met will be reviving its 2016 production which replaced one that premiered only eleven years earlier. Roméo has had a luckier 21st century history at the house; the most recent Faust–Des McAnuff’s widely disliked 2011 production–has been absent since its single revival in 2013. The Bernheim/Sierra premiere will be the Met’s 350th Roméo, more than four hundred fewer than Faust by a company whose first opera house was once dubbed the “Faustspielhaus.”

Given Gounod’s popularity at the Met, it’s surprising that the only other works by the composer performed by the company are Philémon et Baucis for 16 performanaces, often as the top-half of a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana, plus a one-night-only Mors et Vita in 1917.

Though its first Roméo (a one-off) was in Italian, since 1891 the Met has performed the opera in French though new productions through the years have starred pairs one more likely might have seen in Italian opera: Beniamino Gigli and Lucrezia Bori, Franco Corelli and Mirella Freni, Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo.

Gounod : Roméo et Juliette

Juliette:  Andrée Esposito
Gertrude: Iris Paque
Stéphano: Claudine Ferment
Roméo: Alain Vanzo
Mercutio: Jean-Pierre Laffage
Frère Laurent: Ivan Sauer
Tybalt: François Garcia
Paris:  Alfred Navello
Gregorio: Gérard Spagnol
Capulet: Alain Duverry

Conductor: Antonio de Almeida
Dec. 1976

Juliette: Jeanette Pilou
Gertrude: Fedora Barbieri
Stéphano: Maria Casula
Roméo: Veriano Luchetti
Mercutio: Leo Nucci
Frère Laurent: Nicola Ghiuselev
Tybalt: Giancarlo Turati
Paris: Alberto Noli
Gregorio: Franco Boscolo
Capulet: Giovanni Foiani

Conductor: Michel Plasson
Verona Arena
14 July 1977
In-arena recording

Juliette: Sylvia Sass
Gertrude: Anna Ringart
Stéphano: Marie-Christine Porta
Roméo: Neil Shicoff
Mercutio: Philippe Duminy
Frère Laurent: Peter Meven
Tybalt: Robert Dumé
Pâris: Philippe Rouillon
Gregorio: Jean-Louis Soumagnas
Capulet: Yves Bisson

Conductor: Alain Lombard
Paris Opéra
4 October 1982
In-house recording

Each Roméo can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Never miss an episode of Chris’s Cache! Subscribe to this podcast via Apple Podcasts or RSS.