Roméo et Juliette

Charles Gounod Roméo et Juliette opera to libretto by Jules Barbier & Michel Carré. Directed 2011 by Francesco Micheli at the Arena di Verona. Stars Nino Machaidze (Juliette), Stefano Secco (Roméo), Jean-François Borras (Tybalt), Artur Rucinski (Mercutio), Nicolò Ceriani (Paris), Manrico Signorini (Capulet), Giorgio Giuseppini (Frère Laurent), Ketevan Kemoklidze (Stèphano), Cristina Melis (Gertrude, the Nurse),  Paolo Antognetti (Benvolio), Giampiero Ruggeri (Grégorio), and Deyan Vatchkov (Duke). Fabio Mastrangelo conducts the Orchestra, Chorus (Chorus Master Giovanni Andreoli) and Ballet Corps of the Arena di Verona. Set design by Edoardo Sanchi; costume design by Silvia Aymonino, choreography by Nikos Lagousakos; lighting by Palo Mazzon; produced by François Duplat; directed for video by Andy Sommer. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C-

Once again a magnificent opera is dragged down by the challenges of performing in the giant outdoor arena. All of the music here sounds harsh and strained except for the organ that comes in for Act 4 wedding scene. It sounds wonderful and provides proof of the lackluster quality of the recording otherwise.

Francesco Micheli goes all-out to spice up the show with spectacular and weird costumes, sets, and props inspired by fantasy and science-fiction literature. (Thank Goodness there are no videos to further ratchet up the pain!) This show may have looked fairly interesting live, at least to younger viewers. But camera shots of the whole stage are too poor to hold much interest in the HT. The TV director has to go closer for more resolution, and the home viewer sees how extreme and tacky the designs are. In the first screenshot we see fancy split-screen views used by Andy Sommer fairly often to add value for home viewers. Here is the Capulet coming-out party for Juliette:

If you look closely, you see the Capulet costumes are unisex and half the dancers are men in drag:

Lord Capulet (Manrico Signorini) arrives in a traveling tank-turret that also functions as a holding cell for Juliette:

Nino Machaidze, one of the leading Juliettes in the world, did as well as could be expected in view of the goofy environment. Here we see her popping out of her cell:

More cross-dressing male dancers:

Mercutio (Artur Rucinski):

This is the only instance I remember where Queen Mab becomes a physical character. She is played by Ketevan Kemoklidze, who is officially cast as the Page Stèphano. Kemoklidze has the best stage presence of any of the cast members other than Machaidze, and this gambit by Francesco Micheli is effective if you like this sort of thing:

Juliette's balcony:

Roméo is played by Stefano Secco, who is a bit too pudgy and sweet to be convincing on screen as a Prince worth falling in love with at first sight:

Giorgio Giuseppini as Frère Laurent in a wedding chapel inspired, I guess, by Las Vegas :

The fight scene between Roméo and Tybalt was easy to stage since it takes place inside this "fighting sphere" where nobody can see what's happening:

The Duke (Deyan Vatchkov):

The honeymoon:

The solution to Juliette's plight:

Juliette's wedding with Paris:

Paris (Nicolò Ceriani) at the far right is frustrated:

Juliette in the tomb has more candles than even my wife:

I expect all older operas to be updated, but the mise-en-scène here seems ridiculous and distracting to me. This, together with the poor sound, brings me to the grade of "C-." But I do allow that the PQ of this video if fine. I'm just too old for this title. If you like the designs and directing you see here, then this could be a "C+" or even a "B" title for you.