Capuleti ed i Montecchi, I (The Capulets and Montagues)
  • Vincenzo Bellini. Tragedia lirica in two acts. 1830.
  • Libretto by Felice Romani.
  • First performance at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, on 11th March 1830.
CHARACTERS
Tebaldo, betrothed to Giulietta tenor
Capellio, leader of the Capuleti, father of Giulietta bass
Lorenzo, doctor to the Capuleti tenor or bass
Romeo, leader of the Montecchi mezzo-soprano
Giulietta, daughter of Capellio soprano

The story of Romeo and Juliet, familiar from Shakespeare, has earlier Italian sources. The Guelph Tebaldo is to marry Giulietta, but vows revenge on the Ghibelline Romeo, who has killed Capellio’s son. Romeo, disguised as a messenger, conveys apologies for the killing and offers marriage with Giulietta as a means of reconciliation. In her room, Romeo urges flight, but she refuses and in the following scene preparations are under way for her wedding, interrupted by the factional disputes of the Montecchi, who burst in. The doctor Lorenzo offers Giulietta a draught that will simulate death, a seeming event mourned, as Romeo and Tebaldo are about to fight. Approaching Giulietta’s tomb, which his followers force open, Romeo takes poison, dying as Giulietta revives. As he falls dead, Giulietta too dies.

Bellini’s opera provides a demanding breeches part for a mezzo-soprano, to be heard notably in Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio (If Romeo killed your son), while Giulietta’s romanza O quante volte (O how many times) expresses her love for Romeo and her dilemma. The work was composed in a period of six weeks and both librettist and composer make use in it of earlier material.