“Romeo and Juliet” goes from play to opera

Part of the cast of “Romeo et Juliette” practices a fight scene for the performance. “As a concept, I wanted to make things modern, so costuming is close to what we wear today, and I traded in swords for knives,” said Tiffany Bostic-Brown, stage director of UNA Opera and Musical Theatre.

by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

“Romeo and Juliet” is one of William Shakespeare’s most recognizable plays. UNA Opera will add a musical and modern twist to the tragedy Nov. 4 – 6 at the George S. Lindsey Theatre.

“Romeo and Juliet” is a storyline people recognize, said Tiffany Bostic-Brown, stage director of UNA Opera and Musical Theatre.

“We are always searching for ways to make opera more relatable to our audience,” she said. “Opera can sometimes seem unrelatable because many people are not exposed to it as much as the other musical genres. When you add some familiarity, the audience can relax and enjoy the interpretation.”

The performance will be different than the original, Bostic-Brown said.

“The text for this particular production is not in the traditional Shakespeare prose, only the same story line,” she said. “It is composed by Charles Gounod, originally in French, and we are using an English translation. Also, don’t expect lavish gowns and sword fights. As a concept, I wanted to make things modern, so costuming is close to what we wear today, and I traded in swords for knives.”

Assistant professor of Music Terrance Brown is the conductor and musical director of the production. He said he believes the directors made an excellent decision with this piece.

“French composer Charles Gounod’s setting of this timeless classic was exquisite,” he said. “The merging of finely crafted music and text was an opportunity we could not pass up.”

Graduate student Marc Anderson will play Romeo, and senior Gabrielle Fuqua and junior Maria Sullivan will alternate in playing Juliette.

“Working on this production has been a very awakening experience for me, and also a challenging experience,” Fuqua said. “Juliette and myself are very different in likeness to each other – and it has definitely been a joy to get to know who she is.”

Bostic-Brown said she hopes the performance will “move” the audience.

“Our goals as artists is to communicate and make your audience feel something,” she said. “Music is a common language for us all — even if you aren’t used to opera.”

Bostic-Brown said students should come to support the arts and fellow students.

“Our students have worked incredibly hard and have created and cultured a beautiful story that will entrance our audience,” she said. “It’s also opera at its best, dancing, a love story, fighting and of course death.”

Fuqua said students should expect an amazing performance.

“It’s not just a performance but an experience,” she said. “We have all been working so hard as an ensemble, and I, for one, believe we have a beautiful product.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. The performances will take place Nov. 4-5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 2 p.m.