Interview with musical director Phillip Pointner

Together with director Julien Chavaz, musical director Phillipp Pointner has adapted the rhythm and structure of Roméo et Juliette to contemporary standards. “Roméo et Juliette has never been performed in this new structure. The result will be very interesting and exciting for the audience.

How do you characterize the music that Gounod wrote for this opera?

The opera Roméo et Juliette characterizes the transition to impressionist music. New is the way in which the music highlights the relationship between Roméo and Juliette. The four duets that Roméo and Juliette sing together show the process of falling in love. While listening you discover the unique colors and ingredients of love, as in a watercolor. The battle scene, on the other hand, is very heroic. There are also facets from the opera comique, which will make you laugh. Because Gounod combined motifs from all times, a kind of patchwork opera has arisen.’

Together with Julien Chavaz you have adapted the rhythm and structure of Gounod’s opera. Why?

“We must remain loyal to the great masters by playing their music with respect, but we must not be afraid to help them in our time. Unnecessarily probably; I don’t change anything about Gounod’s music, only the structure of the opera is different.’

What is the most important change?

‘The most important? Gounod wrote Roméo et Juliette like a number opera, with room for applause after every scene. Our version of Roméo et Juliette is more continuous. The five deeds have been merged into two parts. In order for these acts to be uninterrupted, I have created new musical transitions. Of course I use Gounod’s music for this. Now there is more flow and less loss of drama. After Juliette’s aria there is room for applause, but not in places where it does not serve the opera.’

This rewrite requires intensive collaboration with the director. How does that work?

“Due to Covid, we zoomed a lot in the past year. It is a demanding process in which you decide together which parts of the score to use or not. Also during the rehearsals a lot has been discussed and changed. The result will be very interesting and exciting for the audience, because in this structure, Roméo et Juliette has never been performed! Of course that is a risk. But it feels good. My instinct tells me we made something good.”


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