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In this production Capellio is not the leader of a family in Medieval Verona, but a Mafia style gang-leader in what can be taken for 1930s America. Robert Innes Hopkins' design is effective and pretty non-specific, allowing his stylish costumes and Jon Clark's striking lighting to make their strong effects.

As Capellio's daughter Giulietta, Sinead Campbell looked strikingly attractive. She is not a petite woman and her demeanour was hardly girlish, but then Bellini's Giulietta is no shrinking violet. She spends a large part of Act 1 being conflicted between her family feeling and her desire to flee with Romeo. Campbell brought this over well -- her singing was confident, expressive and quite large boned, her performance similarly strong but appealing and sexually charged as well. Campbell had a nice sense of line and a good way with Bellinian ornamentation, though her voice got a little tight at the very top. I first learned the opera by hearing Edita Gruberova in this role and I still feel that the silver-toned light soprano voice is ideal, but other voice types and interpretations can be valid, as Campbell amply demonstrated. I don't think that her future career will lie in Bellini -- I am sure bigger, more dramatic roles will call. But her technique singing Bellini shows that she is building on sure foundations.

As Romeo, Hannah Pedley was well nigh ideal. She has a slim boyish figure which looked well in Romeo's suit and his overcoat (I have abiding memories of the 2001 production and the way Romeo's overcoat certainly did not flatter Susan Bickley). But more than this, Pedley has a high mezzo-soprano voice which fits the role, she sings the Bellinian cantilena with a lovely flexibility and a good sense of line. There are innumerable similar roles that I would like to hear her in, and I hope she does not wander into the more dramatic mezzo territory too early. The Act 1 ensemble where she and Campbell sing a glorious, long-breathed melody over the moving bass of the chorus and ensemble, was a lovely moment in a fine performance.

Jonas Gudmundsson sang Tebaldo, Giulietta's father's chosen partner for her. Gudmundsson has a strong, attractive Italianate voice and with his handsome stage presence should go far. His voice was, perhaps, a little too much on the spinto side for this role, but he sang with remarkably freedom at the top. So even if I would have liked a lighter lyric sound, I cannot complain at Gudmundsson's musicality or musicianship. Essentially Tebaldo is a pain, we are not really able to feel sorry for him; but it says much for Gudmundsson's engaging stage persona that we never entirely lost sympathy for him, loser though he is.

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Copyright © 12 July 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK


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