Charles Gounod


Performing Arts Center, Reseda, CA


2 hours 45 minutes with 1 intermission

Sung in French with supertitles projected above the stage

In this retelling of Shakespeare's story, two families in Verona -- the Capulets and the Montagues -- are bitter enemies. Conflict ensues when Roméo, a Montague, and Juliette, a Capulet, fall in love. The two young lovers exchange secret vows, but within hours a fight has broken out between the two families, once again. Roméo's friend, Mercutio, is killed by Count Capulet's nephew, Tybalt. Despite his newfound alliance with the Capulets, Roméo, distraught over the loss of his friend, fights Tybalt and murders him. As a result, Roméo is forced into exile. Forced by her father to marry Paris when she is already secretly married to Roméo, Juliette takes a sleeping potion given to her by the Friar so as to pretend she is dead. Tragically, Roméo thinks she is in fact dead and kills himself before discovering the truth. When Juliette awakes and discovers what her lover has done, she stabs herself.

The production stars Shira Renee Thomas, Melinda Ehrlich, Dylan F. Thomas, Benjamin Bunsold, Esteban Perez, Kim Shahbazian,  Roland Mills, Christina Rozshart, Joseph Dhanens, Guillermo Garcia, and William Grundler.  Maestro Brian Onderdonk conducts The Center Stage Opera Orchestra. 


JULIETTEMelinda Erhlich
Aubrey Trujillo-Scarr (cover)
ROMEOBenjamin Bunsold


CONDUCTORBrian Onderdonk
DIRECTORDlyan F. Thomas
Mercedes Juan Musotto
SET DESIGNERLily Bartenstein


The Center Stage Opera Orchestra

A short chorus sets the scene of the rival families in Verona.

The Capulets are holding a masked ball. Count Capulet arrives with his daughter and greets the guests.  Juliette is excited to attend the party. The rival Montagues, including a masked Roméo and his friends, also arrive at the party. Roméo’s friend Mercutio launches into a song about Queen Mab trying to convince Roméo to stay focused on the task at hand. It is then that the two meet and their attraction is instantaneous.  Tybalt is suspicious of the young man attracting Juliette’s attention and realizes that Montagues are at the ball. Roméo and his friends make a quick exit. Count Capulet tells Tybalt to remain civil and continues the ball.

Roméo and his page Stéphano are hiding just below Juliette’s apartment. Roméo sings of Juliette’s beauty as the purest, brightest star. As Roméo hides, Juliette appears on the balcony and reveals her attraction to him, even though he is a Montague. Roméo reveals himself and they pledge their love only to be interrupted by Capulets searching the gardens and then Juliette’s nurse, Gertrude. They bid each other good night. 

Roméo, followed by Juliette and her nurse, arrives at Friar Lawrence’s cell. The Friar hopes that the union of Roméo and Juliette will lead to peace between the two houses and agrees to marry the couple.

Stéphano provokes a fight with the Capulets as a distraction.  Grégorio rises to the challenge drawing more Capulets and Montagues in the brawl.  Mercutio and Tybalt fight and Mercutio is killed.  In a fit of rage, Roméo kills Tybalt and the Duke of Verona banishes Roméo from the city.

After a night of passion, Roméo bids Juliette farewell before he is exiled. Gertrude warns Juliette that her father is approaching with Friar Lawrence. Count Capulet tells Juliet to prepare for her marriage to Paris immediately. The Friar gives Juliette a potion that will make it appear as if she is dead then promises when she awakens, Roméo will be with her and they will flee together. Juliette drinks the potion and on the way to marry Paris, she faints and all think she is dead. 

Roméo has broken into the tomb and mourns Juliette’s death. In despair, Roméo drinks poison just as Juliette begins to awaken. Unaware that Roméo is dying, they sing of a new life together but Roméo falters and tells Juliette what he has done. Unwilling to live without him, Juliette stabs herself with a dagger. As the lovers die, they pray for God’s forgiveness.

Gounod’s interest in the subject of the opera was mentioned his correspondence in the later part of 1864 and his librettists, Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, completed a libretto in the early part of 1865.  Gounod had known these men for ten years and they had been the librettists for his earlier operatic triumph, Faust.  The libretto follows the Shakespearean play very closely, particularly in the dialogue, and they treated the original with great respect.

The premiere of Roméo et Juliette was a sensation.  It occurred during the Exposition Universelle in Paris on April 27, 1867.  The city was full of people from outside the city visiting the exposition and the opera played to sold-out houses night after night.  Many foreigner visitors also saw the production which contributed to its rapid acceptance at opera houses in other parts of the world.  By the end of 1867, Rome et Juliette had been produced in England, Germany, Belgium and New York.

A distinguishing feature of the opera is that it contains four love duets for soprano and tenor, a number that was without precedent in its time.  Each of these praiseworthy duets has a musical character and vitality all its own and their importance in the opera can be measured by the oft-quoted statement that the score of Roméo et Juliette is a love duet with occasional interruptions.In contrast to the love music is the sacred nature of the religious music associated with the character of Friar Lawrence.

Gounod’s deeply-held spirituality and religious training is clearly evident in this aspect of the opera.  The success of Roméo et Juliette can also be measured in the high level of drama Gounod was able to achieve in depicting the conflict between the rival families.  Throughout the opera, beginning with the Prologue and carrying through to the great confrontation scene at the end of Act II, the music depicts the active strife which bears the ultimate responsibility for the tragedy.

Saturday, Feb 11, 2017


Sunday, Feb 12, 2017


Performing Arts Center

Reseda, CA

Online ticket sales have concluded for this show. Please check the box office for ticket availability.


Brian Onderdonk


Dlyan F. Thomas


Mara Aguilar


Mercedes Juan Musotto


Veronica Vasquez