Friday, December 17, 2010

Romeo & Juliet at the Teatro Goldoni in Venice

(Venice, Italy) William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has been making audiences weep for more than four hundred years, and still humanity does not learn this lesson. When the play opens, two warring families, the Capulets and the Montagues, have already been fighting for centuries.

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Photo by Marta Ferranti
It is not a private battle; they are both important families and their hatred spills into the streets, disturbing the peace of Verona. The citizens are tired of the constant fighting and step in themselves, shouting "Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down! Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!"

Prince Escalus himself appears on the scene and commands the warring families to stop. Since we all know the ending, the only thing that causes the two patriarchs to finally shake hands and declare peace is the agonizing death of their own children, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, whose passionate love culminates with them dying in each other's arms. Perhaps they are together in Paradise.

I caught yesterday's matinee at the Goldoni Theater where Romeo e Giulietta is playing from December 16 through 19, with excellent performances by Lucas Waldem Zanforlini and Eleonora Tata in the starring roles. Giuseppe Marini directed a condensed version.

In this production the Ladies Montague and Capulet were nowhere in sight, making it truly a war between patriarchs. The theater was almost sold-out, the boxes overflowing with young people all the way up to the ceiling, both male and female, who really seemed to enjoy the show. That is what is great about Romeo & Juliet; I remember studying it myself when I was about fourteen-years-old; in fact, I stuck it in Harley, Like a Person.

Photo by Marta Ferranti
The vibrant costumes by Mariano Tufano were a delight for the eyes — a mixture of Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland, and The Importance of Being Earnest meets A Clockwork Orange — top hats and checkered pants mixed with rich royal velvets. Nicolò Scarparo was a stand-out as Friar Lorenzo (Laurence), floating seamlessly across the stage an inch above the ground. The set was sparse, but effective.

Romeo and Juliet has been produced an infinite amount of times, in zillions of languages, in ancient and contemporary interpretations. It has been filmed and made into operas, ballets and Broadway musicals. Switch-blades have replaced swords; hypodermic needles have replaced poison. According to Wikipedia:

The play is sometimes given a historical setting, enabling audiences to reflect on the underlying conflicts. For example, adaptations have been set in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,[124] in the apartheid era in South Africa,[125] and in the aftermath of the Pueblo Revolt.[126] Similarly, Peter Ustinov's 1956 comic adaptation, Romanoff and Juliet, is set in a fictional mid-European country in the depths of the Cold War.[127] 

At the end of the play, Prince Escalus laments after too many good people have died for no good reason:

Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.

Photo by Marta Ferranti
Dec 16 & 19 at 4:00pm
Dec 15, 17 & 18 at 8:30pm

Teatro Goldoni
San Marco 4650/b

Ciao from Venice,


  1. Venice is one of the most romantic places. Thanks for the post and regards from Venice hotels

  2. Did you see what I wrote about the Molino Stucky Hilton for ninemsn, Natalie?

    I just asked them to correct the typo:)