Monday 9 July 2007

More on Capuletti e Montecchi

The role of Romeo in Bellini's Capuletti e Montecchi was originally written for the soprano, Giulietta Grisi. In 1832, when Maria Malibran essayed the role , Rossini suggested that she use a scene from Nicola Vaccai's opera Romeo e Giulietta as the penultimate scene of the score. Malibran had a voice of remarkable range, but this change made the role of Romeo more accessible to contraltos and it became a regular option for singers like Maria Alboni.

A high counter-tenor friend, who had sung scenes from Bellini's opera, once opined that if the Vaccai ending was used he would be able to sing the whole role. I am not aware that anyone has actually tried this out yet.

Vaccai had been an older contemporary of Bellini's who had had a degree of success, in fact Romeo e Giulietta was his most popular opera, one of the few to receive performances outside Italy. Unfortunately it was eclipsed by Bellini's opera; Bellini probably chose the subject because his librettist, Felice Romani was embroiled in a financial dispute with Vaccai.

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