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Vincenzo Bellini
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BELLINI: I Capuleti e i Montecchi

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Music composed by Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835). Libretto by Felice Romani, based on the play Giulietta e Romeo (1818) by Luigi Scevola.

Vincenzo Bellini: I Capuleti e i Montecchi

Agnes Baltsa, Sona Ghazarian, Kurt Rydl, Ottavio Garaventa, Tugomir Franc, Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper, Giuseppe Patané (cond.).
Live performance, Vienna, 8 October 1977


First Performance: 11 March 1830 at Teatro La Fenice, Venice.

Principal Characters:

Capellio, head of the Capuleti Bass
Giulietta, his daughter Soprano
Romeo, head of the Montecchi Mezzo-Soprano
Tebaldo, partisan of the Capuleti, betrothed to Giulietta Tenor
Lorenzo, doctor and adviser to Capellio Tenor

Time and Place: 13th Century Verona


Part One

Act I, Scene 1: A gallery in the Capuleti palace.

The city of Verona is torn apart by civil strife. The followers of the Capuleti family (the "Guelfi") oppose the followers of the Montecchi family (the "Ghibellini"). Fearing an attack, Capellio has called his people to exhort them to continue the struggle. He informs them that Romeo, the head of the Montecchi, is sending an envoy with peace proposals. Capellio hates Romeo, who recently killed his son. Lorenzo counsels them to hear the proposals. Tebaldo, however, promises vengeance with the blood of Romeo. Capellio thereupon offers Tebaldo his daughter, Giulietta; and they are to be married that evening. Knowing of the secret bond between Romeo and Giulietta, Lorenzo advises against the marriage because Giulietta is ill. Romeo, who is known by the Capuleti only by name, arrives to discuss peace. He proposes that the peace be sealed by the marriage of Romeo and Giulietta. Capellio refuses and promises future bloodshed. Romeo is informed of Giulietta's betrothal to Tebaldo.

Act I, Scene 2: A room in Giulietta's apartment.

Giulietta learns of her father's decision. She sadly calls out to her beloved Romeo. Lorenzo arrives with Romeo through a secret door to Giulietta's room. Romeo embraces Giulietta and urges her to run away with him. She refuses because of her duty to obey her father.

Part Two

Act I, Scene 3: A courtyard in Capellio's palace.

The Guelfi celebrate the imminent wedding of Giulietta and Tebaldo. Romeo, disguised as a Guelfi, confides to Lorenzo that there are a thousand armed Ghibellini outside the city preparing to attack. Lorenzo urges him to abandon his plans, all to no avail. The attack begins. During the commotion, Romeo races to join his men. Giulietta enters in her wedding dress. Romeo reaches her and urges her to follow him. Capellio and Tebaldo arrive leading the Guelfi. They recognize Romeo as the envoy. Romeo identifies himself and escapes with the assistance of the Ghibellini.

Part Three

Act II, Scene 1: An apartment in Capellio's palace.

Giulietta is anxious. Lorenzo tells her that Romeo is safe; however, the wedding will take place the next day. Lorenzo devises a stratagem. He advises her to take a potion that will produce a deathlike condition. Giulietta immediately grasps the potion and drinks it. Capellio enters and instructs her to retire and to prepare for the wedding. Giulietta implores him to embrace her. Disturbed, Capellio begins to feel remorse. Harboring suspicions of Lorenzo, he sends for Tebaldo and orders him to guard Lorenzo.

Act II, Scene 2: A deserted place near Capellio's palace.

Alarmed by the lack of news, Romeo searches for Lorenzo. He comes upon Tebaldo who challenges him to a duel. Just as they are about to engage in combat, they are taken aback by funeral music. It is a funeral procession to Giulietta's tomb. Both overwhelmed with grief, Romeo and Tebaldo disengage.

Part Four

Act II, Scene 3: At the tombs of the Capuleti.

Led by Romeo, the Ghibellini arrive to mourn. He orders her tomb to be opened and bids farewell to Giulietta. He then takes poison. Giulietta awakens and calls out to Romeo. She sees him at the foot of the sepulcher, thinking that he is there at Lorenzo's instructions. She soon realizes the truth when Romeo tells her he has taken poison. They embrace. Romeo dies and Giuletta falls dead upon his body. The Guelfi and Ghibellini rush in and observe the tragic scene. Capellio blames himself for the consequences of the hatred between the two factions.

Click here for the complete libretto.

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