Bellini’s I Capuletti at Covent Garden: disappointing

On the face of it, Saturday’s I Capuletti e I Montecchi at the Royal Opera House had a lot going for it:

* Anna Netrebko, regarded by many as the finest living soprano

* Bellini – top bel canto composer

* The Romeo and Juliet story – a sure-fire winner.

But I Capuletti e I Montecchi was disappointing; we left at half time, relieved to be out.

The casting was bizarre – a (fine-voiced) mezzo played the role of Romeo. So the sexual chemistry between the star-crossed lovers was confused, mainly absent. Is Bellini’s the first lesbian version of Romeo and Juliet?

Netrebko has a big voice, with a rich tone and you feel that she’s always in charge. But she hasn’t floated my boat on the four occasions I’ve seen her sing live. When you’re lucky enough to see a lot of world-class singers, you tend to develop impossibly high standards; I don’t share the current lionisation of Ms Netrebko.

In Act 1, the music was dull, the libretto weak and the production clunky. The acting was unconvincing. I can’t comment on Act 2, but my expectations would have been low.

Gerry Smith

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