Roméo et Juliette


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Roméo et Juliette

Kraus, Faye Robinson, Bizzi, Coviello, Martinovich; Guingal. In French, no subtitles. (1987). 160m. Color.

This Roméo is evidence that Kraus is no longer cold. By his own admission, in the 60s and 70s he concentrated on technique sometimes to the exclusion of feeling. His singing gradually acquired personality, so that he came to artistic maturity in the 80s, when he was in his mid-50s.

Here Kraus is romantic and tender and sings with more mezza voce than is usual for him. He also sings with something rare in leading tenors, continuity of dynamics from piano to forte. Using contrast of dynamics, he effectively builds the climaxes of “Ah! Lêve-toi, soleil!” Tenors need high Cs the way baseball players need home runs, and Kraus does for Gounod what Babe Ruth did for the Yankees. Kraus interpolates several high Cs. His face may no longer be that of Roméo, but he’s athletic and the duel scene is high voltage.

Faye Robinson has a good trill, good velocity and a quick ascending scale. As her part becomes more dramatic she sings with passion.

The Stéphane is lovely, Paris and the other small parts are well taken.

Roméo once was one of the most popular operas, but many today don’t know it. Its soaring, palpitating melodies stay in the ear and the heart like few others.–Stefan Zucker