Marginalia, a new interdisciplinary performance collective, has combined words from Shakespeare’s timeless play Romeo and Juliet with intoxicating melodies from Bellini’s opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues, 1830) to create a brand new production that fuses theatre and opera.
This innovative work combines speech and music in order to take a novel look at love in this age-old story. It is fully staged for two singers and an actor. It aims to show the star-crossed lovers in a different light from that which viewers might be used to. In A rose by another name: Juliet and Romeo, audiences will see a Romeo who has a dysfunctional relationship with Love; after all things didn’t turn out so well with Rosalind. Maybe Juliet will be the one – if only Love can exercise some self-control and rein in her penchant for chaos.
Juliet, however, struggles desperately against powerful currents of coercion and manipulation. This quirky and thought-provoking show centres her perspective and will challenge even seasoned opera- and theatre-goers to rethink what they believe they know about her story. Will Love in this version of the story turn out to be a noble passion to heal age-old rifts?
Shakespeare’s tragedy about two young Italian ‘star-crossed lovers’ whose untimely deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families was one of his most popular plays during the playwright’s lifetime. It remains one of his most frequently performed works today.
Bellini’s opera is a reworking of this well-known story. It is based on a play of the same name by Italian dramatist Luigi Scevola, written in 1818, rather than taken directly from Shakespeare. In this version the Capuleti and Montecchi are rival political factions: Guelph and Ghibelline respectively, the former supporting the pope, the latter the Holy Roman Emperor.
Marginalia’s unique fusion of these two works is set to be performed on three nights only across the capital. On 13 August, it will be at St Thomas with St Stephen Church in Balham; later in the year, on 22 October, it moves to St Margaret’s church in Putney and the final performance takes place on 29 October at Pimlico’s St Gabriel’s church.
The production is performed by graduates and fellows of Mountview, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Music and University of Cambridge. The part of Love is played by actor Rebecca Hare. German soprano Anna-Luise Wagner sings the role of Juliet, with British mezzo-soprano Chloë Allison as her Romeo. London-based director and choreographer Eleanor Burke directs, while Aya Robertson and Luke Fitzgerald share piano duties.
The running time is around 70 minutes. The work is performed in English and Italian, with translations. Covid-19 safety measures will be in place. Tickets are on sale now; further details are available on Marginalia’s website.
Marginalia was founded by academics and performers Wagner and Allison, and together they continue to lead Marginalia’s all-female creative team. The collective brings cutting-edge academic research to life through performance, telling stories that have remained hidden on the margins of history and re-energising well-known repertoire by exploring it from different perspectives. One of the company’s aims is to make classical music more accessible to more diverse audiences.
New interdisciplinary performance collective Marginalia will perform A rose by another name: Juliet and Romeo at venues around London this summer and autumn.