O’ Roméo, Roméo!
Santa Fe New Mexican
With Guillermo Figueroa conducting, a 77-person orchestra, nearly 100 voices, and three operatic soloists will perform Roméo et Juliet. The work encompasses the entire evening and is usually performed by orchestras much larger than the Santa Fe Symphony. Due to the number of musicians and the difficulty and length of the work, the performers have rehearsed well beyond what’s customarily required to prepare for a concert. Taking Shakespeare’s play and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as his inspirations, Berlioz composed three central movements and a choral finale of redemption and reconciliation. (The symphony projects an English translation of the French libretto so the audience can follow along.) In the symphony, the play’s most famous scene is rendered musically, without voices. “I’m paraphrasing, but Berlioz says that the feelings in the balcony scene are too intense for words. Much better to let the instruments express the feelings,” Figueroa says. “This is probably the single most gorgeous work he ever wrote — that one movement. The work is a huge challenge, to portray this combination of elements. You are in the symphonic world, but you are also in Romeo and Juliet. The experience is overwhelming. You come out shaking because it’s so powerful.”