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Relayed from the Free Trade Hall
S.B. from Manchester
WHEN the Irish actress, Harriet Smithson , appeared in Romeo and Juliet in Paris, in 1828, Berlioz determined to write a big dramatic work on tho subject of the play, and to marry
Harriet. He achieved both aims, though he had to wait five years before he won the actress.
Romeo and Juliet, written for Orchestra, Vocal
Soloist and Chorus, may be described us half Cantata and half Symphony."
There are three parts in the work.
. This opens with an Orchestral Prelude, above which the composer has written Combats, tumult and the intervention of the Prince.' The various ' voices,' mingling in fugal style, suggest an excited, quarrelsome throng. The Brass instruments show us the Prince's intervention (the ' quarrel ' theme, given out in longer notes), and soon peace is made.
The Chorus tells of the calming of strife, and of Capulet's summoning guests to a banquet. The Contralto soloist sings of Romeo's sadness because of his love for Juliet, daughter of his enemy. The Chorus takes up the song of revelry, and after an Orchestral interlude, continues with the tale of Romeo's approaching Juliet's balcony. The Contralto tells of their pledges of love.
Next, the Chorus describes how Romeo's friends mocked at his sad countenance, and Mercutio (Tenor) in a solo echoed by the Chorus with a delightful, delicate orchestral accompaniment, chaffs him, saying that the fairy Queen Mab must have been with him.
Abruptly after this comes a few bars of Chorus telling how Capulets and Montagues at last joined hands in peace, after grievous sorrow and pain.
An Orchestral Movement comes first, describing
' Romeo alone. Sadness. Distant sounds of music and dancing. Great festivities in Capulet's palace.'
After the the next scene is 'Starlit night. Capulet's garden, silent and deserted. Tho young Capulets, leaving the festivity, sing snatches of the dance music.' Tho Chorus gives us tho youths' farewell.
Then follows a slow Orchestral Movement, suggesting the love scene-between Romeo and Juliet.
Another Orchestral piece follows-the famous
Scherzo, Queen Mab. This carries out the idea first enunciated in Part I-that of the fairy who comes— ' ? *? In shape no bigger than an agate-stono On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep.
This opens with Juliet's Funeral. The Orchestra begins with a theme that the Chorus later takes up, singing ' Strew the flowers for the maiden departed ...'
, Then several short Orchestral sections depict, first Romeo, in agitation and despair, at the tomb where Juliet lies, apparently dead, but in reality only in a deep sleep. A slow Introduction follows, begun by Woodwind. This goes on to Juliet's Awakening, a beautiful, subdued section, and then Romeo's Delirious Joy is suggested by an impassioned outburst. The end of the scene, however, is the death of the lovers.
The Finale includes a number of sections. The people hurry to the churchyard, and the rival factions dispute, whilst Friar Laurence (Bass) tells how he married tho lovers, and gave Juliet the sleeping draught. When Romeo saw her apparently dead, ho took his life, and she, finding him thus, with his dagger stabbed herself. (It will be observed that the section headed Delirious Joy, mentioned above, is not consistent with this explanation.) '
- In an Air Friar Laurence mourns the hapless pair. Ho rebukes the crowd for its passions, and begs all to seek God's forgiveness, and to forget their hatreds. Their hearts are touched, and the work ends with their solemn oath of reconciliation.


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