Romeo and Juliet

Past Production

Come with The Atlanta Opera as we venture to Verona and meet Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile feuding families. Not seen on the Atlanta Opera stage since 2007, Charles Gounod’s opera in five acts, sung in French, reexamines the story through a decidedly French romantic lens. In France, the work is regarded as Gounod’s best achievement, and has correspondingly produced numerous performances. Although it is less frequently performed in the United States, The Atlanta Opera’s version is a rare, magnificent visual treat.

Performed in French with English supertitles

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre



All Performances: Pre-show fine dining
$55 for Sat, Tues, Fri dinner
$42.50 for Sun brunch

Opera’s Night Out

Young professionals enjoy a pre-show cocktail hour + ticket to the show
$40 for Under 40


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Get the Feeling


Composer: Charles Gounod
Librettist: Jules Barbier and Michel Carré
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Premiere Date: Saturday, April 27, 1867


The chorus chants of Verona’s Montague-Capulet feud, and of Roméo and Juliette, who held fast to their love though doomed to a tragic death.


At a masked ball given by Capulet, Juliette’s cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris eagerly await her appearance. When Capulet presents his daughter, the guests exclaim at her beauty; Juliette responds with joy at attending her first party. Capulet urges the guests to enjoy themselves and, after a ballet, leads them to another room. Roméo and his companions, masked, steal into the empty room. When Roméo reports an ominous dream, Mercutio hails Queen Mab, the mistress of fantasy. At Juliette’s approach, Roméo hides with his friends, and she enters with her nurse. Reveling in the freedom of youth, she is immediately entranced when Roméo unmasks and addresses her. She responds sweetly to his advances until Tybalt interrupts their encounter. Roméo rushes off, but Tybalt has recognized him as a Montague and calls together a group to follow him. Only Capulet’s intervention prevents bloodshed, and the party continues.


Under Juliette’s balcony, heedless of his friends’ voices calling him, Roméo hails her as the sun, the purest and brightest star. She appears, distressed at her feelings for an enemy of her family, but when Roméo steps forward, the feud is forgotten, and the two ecstatically pledge their love. Roméo hides briefly as a group of Capulets passes, looking for him. When they are gone, he and Juliette plan to meet the following day for a secret marriage, then bid each other a rhapsodic farewell.


In Frère Laurent’s cell, Roméo and Juliette arrive with her nurse and ask the friar to marry them. He does so, hoping their union will bring peace to warring families, and asking God’s mercy for them.

That same morning, Roméo’s page, Stéphano, plants himself outside the Capulets’ palace to insult them with a mocking song, provoking a fight. When Tybalt challenges Mercutio, Roméo arrives to stop the quarrel, answering Tybalt’s belligerence with offers of friendship. Enraged by his friend’s apparent cowardice, Mercutio draws his sword to uphold the Montague honor and is fatally wounded by Tybalt. He dies cursing both families. Roméo furiously challenges Tybalt and kills him as the square fills with outraged citizens. Capulet calls for revenge, and the Duke of Verona appears. Tired of the endless bloodshed, he banishes Roméo from the city. Roméo cries that he will brave even death to see Juliette again.


That night in Juliette’s bedroom, the lovers are united, but when day dawns, Roméo reluctantly departs. Capulet and the friar greet Juliette with the news that she is to marry Paris that very day. Alone with Laurent, Juliette appeals for help, and he gives her a potion to simulate death, promising she will wake with Roméo beside her. Draining the vial, she collapses as her parents arrive to lead her to the altar.


Roméo, having heard of his beloved’s supposed death, arrives at Juliette’s tomb and gives way to despair. Unwilling to live without her, he takes poison. Juliette awakens, and the pair ecstatically hail a new life together, but the poison begins to take effect, and Roméo bids Juliette a tender farewell. Snatching his dagger, she stabs herself. Praying for forgiveness, they die in each other’s arms.

Courtesy of Opera News

Characters & Cast


the daughter of Capulet who falls for Romeo


Nicole Cabell

The 2005 Winner of the BBC Singer of the World Competion in Cardiff and Decca recording artist, is one of the most sought-after lyric sopranos of today.


a young artist and member of the Montague family

leon jesus 2

Jesús Leon

Mexican tenor Jesús León is one of the most acclaimed ‘bel canto’ tenors of his generation.


Juliet’s cousin

Santiago Ballerini

One of the leading tenors in Bel Canto repertoire, Ballerini has sung in all major opera houses in South and North America.


close friend to Romeo

Edward Parks

Baritone Edward Parks has been hailed by Opera News for his “warm, velvety baritone” and the New York Times for providing “precision, sensitivity and nuance in abundance” and a “robust, earthy voice”.

Friar Laurence

holy man who marries Romeo and Juliet

Burak Bilgili

Burak Bilgili is a Turkish operatic bass-baritone who has sung at the greatest opera houses in the world, including Teatro alla Scala and the Metropolitan Opera.

Newbie Guide

The Opera Experience

Operas on our mainstage are grand theatrical experiences. You can always expect the unexpected, and for our productions to be presented at the highest quality.


Many operas are in a foreign language. Supertitles are similar to subtitles in a film, except they are projected above the stage. These translations will help you follow what’s happening on stage.

What to Wear

There is no dress code at The Opera and you will see everything from jeans to evening gowns and formal suits. Most people use it as a chance to enjoy dressing up in their own style.

Arriving in Good Time

If you are late, you will be escorted to the nearest late seating area. At intermission ushers will show you to your seat. Plan ahead to arrive with extra time.

Directions & Parking at Cobb Energy Center

Enhance Your Visit

Pre-Performance Talk

Learn about the history of the opera, the composer, and more from artists and opera aficionados. One hour prior to curtain. Free with your ticket!

Learn More

Familiarizing Yourself with the Story

Because of the foreign languages, classical music, and often complex plots, you will very likely enjoy the performance better if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the story and characters in advance. Some people even like to listen to the music in advance and others prefer to let it wash over them during the show and perhaps look it up afterwards.

Visit our Study Guides Library

How is an Opera Staged?


Actors first audition for roles up to a year in advance, or for more experienced artists, directors also invite them to play a role.


Most of the rehearsals are held in our rehearsal hall, and not the actual theatre. The conductor begins orchestra rehearsals about a week and half before opening night. They have four rehearsals with the conductor, and then the singers are added into the mix.

Sets & Costumes

The Atlanta Opera Costume Shop alters the costumes to fit our singers. Sometimes they do have to make costumes if there aren’t enough, or if there is nothing that fits, etc. Once the sets are in place, the cast begins rehearsing at the theatre. The Opera production staff works with staff at the theatre to get all of the lighting and technical aspects of the production together.

Sitzprobe & Dress Rehearsal

The orchestra comes together with the singers in a special rehearsal called sitzprobe. There are no costumes during the sitzprobe, this is mainly to hear the voices with the orchestra. There is a piano dress rehearsal, when the singers rehearse in full costume for the first time so they can get used to wearing them. Finally, all of the pieces are put together for two full dress rehearsals leading up to opening night.


Charles Gounod

Charles Gounod is best known for his operas Faust and Romeo et Juliette and for his Ave Maria (1859). Except for concertos, he composed music in the major genres, but with varying success in the instrumental realm. Gounod was more at home in the vocal arena, particularly in opera and sacred music. Though his reputation began to fade even before he died, he is still generally regarded as a major figure in nineteenth century French music. Stylistically, he was a conservative whose influence nevertheless extended to Bizet, Saint-Saëns, and Massenet. He could not be called a trailblazer or the founder of any movement or school. His works are tuneful, his vocal writing imaginative, and orchestral scoring masterly. Gounod’s compositions, even his two symphonies and lesser known operas, are occasionally explored today, and the aforementioned Faust and Romeo et Juliette and Ave Maria are widely performed and recorded.

Gounod was born on June 17, 1818. His mother was a pianist who served as the young boy’s first teacher. While still in his youth she arranged for him to receive composition lessons from Anton Reicha. After Reicha’s death, Gounod began studies at the Paris Conservatory, where he won a Grand Prix in 1839 for his Cantata Fernand.

After further composition studies in Rome, where he focused on sixteenth century church music, particularly the works of Palestrina, he became deeply interested in religion and by 1845 was contemplating the priesthood. Though he would eventually reject the idea and marry, he remained religious throughout his life and wrote many sacred works, including masses, the most popular being the 1855 St. Cecilia Mass. In that year Gounod also turned out two symphonies, which achieved attention but not lasting success. It was the 1859 opera Faust, however, that, after a slow start, became Gounod’s calling card. Mireille (1864) and especially Romeo et Juliette (1867) added to his reputation, not only in France but throughout Europe.

From 1870-1875 Gounod lived in England owing to the exigencies of the Franco-Prussian War. In his years there and in the period following his return to France, Gounod wrote much music, especially religious music, but never again attained the kind of success he experienced in the 1850s and ’60s. Among his more compelling and imaginative late works is the 1885 Petite Symphonie, (scored for nine instruments). Gounod died in St. Cloud on October 18, 1893.



Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Tomer Zvulun is also one of opera’s most exciting stage directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, Wexford, New Orleans, Minnesota and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv. His debut in New York was in a new production of L’heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi at Juilliard Opera Center that was praised by The New York Times for its “witty, fast-paced staging and the director’s Felliniesque style.”

Known for creating innovative, visually striking new interpretations for standard operas as well as championing new works by contemporary composers, his work has been seen internationally in Europe, South and Central America, Israel, and the US. Recently he created critically acclaimed new productions of Semele (Seattle Opera) Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland), La bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heure espagnole (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Dialogues of the Carmelites (IVAI Tel Aviv), among many others.



Arthur Fagen

Arthur Fagen has been the Carl and Sally Gable music director at The Atlanta Opera since 2010, and continues to be in great demand as a conductor of symphony and opera both in Europe and the United States. He is a regular guest at the most prestigious opera houses, concert halls, and music festivals at home and abroad, and his career has been marked by a string of notable appearances including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Staatsoper Berlin, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the New York City Opera.

A former assistant of Christoph von Dohnanyi (Frankfurt Opera) and James Levine (Metropolitan Opera), he served as principal conductor in Kassel and Brunswick, as chief conductor of the Flanders Opera of Antwerp and Ghent, as music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and as a member of the conducting staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Fagen was born in New York and studied with Laszlo Halasz, Max Rudolf (Curtis Institute) and Hans Swarowsky. Fagen has an opera repertoire of more than 75 works and has recorded for Naxos and BMG. The recent Naxos recording of Martinůs works was awarded Editor’s Choice in the March 2010 issue of Gramophone Magazine.