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Romeo and Juliet Times Three

The story of Romeo and Juliet and their "star crossed love" has inspired many composers to write operas, two very successfully, Vincenzo Bellini and Charles Gounod. It also inspired Tchaikovsky, and we'll have a fragment of that music as arranged by Sergei Taneyev on this week's Lyric Stage, a program showcasing three samples of operatic Romeos and Juliets.

Bellini and his librettist Felice Romani did not use Shakespeare as their source, but drew directly from Giulietta e Romeo, a play published in 1818 in Milan. Gounod used Shakespeare, following the story scene by scene. Tchaikovsky was drawn to Romeo and Juliet and his fantasy overture of that name is one of his most popular works. He was reworking some of that material for a possible opera at the time of his death, and after he died Serge Taneyev arranged it into a Romeo and Juliet duet that can only leave us wishing for more.

Vasselina Kasavoa, Eva Mei, Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghu are among the singers portraying the lovers in one of histories greatest love stories.