Alexander McKissick (Romeo), Madison Leonard (Juliette), Richard Trey Smagur (Tybalt), Joshua Conyers (Count Paris), Federico De Michelis (Lord Capulet), Thomas Glass (Mercutio), Taylor Raven (Gertrude), Andrew Gilstrap (Gregorio), Anthony Reed (Friar Lawrence), Annie Rosen (Stephano), Kevin Bryant (Benvolio)
Part I of Romeo et Juliette opens with fiery orchestra and chorus to set an atmosphere of tension and rivalry between the Capulet and Montague families. It opens on a masked ball at the Capulet palace, where Capulet introduces his daughter, Juliette. She is the center of attention, particularly to Count Paris, to whom she is betrothed, as she sings the sparkling waltz song, “Je Veux Vivre”. Romeo Montague arrives with friends, and he and Juliette immediately fall in love. But love is bittersweet when they discover they are from rival families. Juliette’s cousin, Tybalt, is angered by their attraction. Later that night, Romeo goes to the Capulet garden to see Juliette. She appears, and the lovers passionately proclaim their mutual love and decide to marry. The following day, Friar Lawrence officiates their exchange of wedding vows, praying that their love will heal the warring Capulet and Montague families.
The scene opens as a fight ensures outside the Capulet palace that results in tragedy when Juliette’s cousin, Tybalt, kills Romeo’s friend, Mercutio. As revenge, Romeo kills Tybalt, and is exiled by the Duke of Verona. Before departing, Romeo and Juliette renew their vows that night. The next morning, Papa Capulet reminds Juliette of her obligation to wed Count Paris. Friar Lawrence has a plan to unite the lovers: he will give Juliette a sleeping potion to make her appear dead, and after she is buried in the family tomb, Romeo will rescue her and they will flee together. But Romeo never receives the Friar’s letter detailing the plan. When he returns, he finds Juliette in the tomb and believes she is dead. He swallows poison to join her in death. Juliette awakens and the lovers sing one last time of their undying devotion. Romeo dies, and in grief, Juliette stabs herself. The opera ends as the lovers die in each other’s arms, seeking mercy.