• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Romeo et Juliette

E-mail Print

In 2005 LA Opera had a surprise smash with Gounod’s ROMEO ET JULIETTE. This was due far more to the exciting casting of Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrrbko as the titular lovers than to Gounod’s dramatically inert adaptation of Shakespeare. With Villazon’s career in question and Netrebko firmly ensconced as the new diva at the Met, the pressure was on to find a comparable pair of lovers for this season’s revival.

It is hard to imagine a stronger combination of voice, looks and acting talent than Vittorio Grigolo and Nino Machaidze. Machaidze has been consistently impressive since her LA Opera debut, but Grigolo, whose resume includes a number of pop recordings, is a revelation. He is a natural stage animal with boundless energy, total commitment, and an easy, unforced charisma. His voice is strong, bright and vibrant with a clarion top that thrills. And, if his sound has more Italian bravado than French finesse, no one will argue with the results in this role. But this is no careless performance full of bluster. Grigolo takes care to make the most of his reflective moments as well.

As his Juliette, Machaidze proves to be his match in every respect. If the perky chirping of Juliette’s opening Waltz doesn’t completely suit her darker-hued tone, the rest of the score greatly benefits from her intelligent and stylish singing. Juliette is the character who truly matures throughout the course the opera, and Machaidze carefully charts that growth from impatient daughter to passionate young girl to self-possessed woman. Machaidze may have been less revealing in the staging’s central bed scene than Netrebko, but there’s no denying the heat she generates with Grigolo.

The rest of the company is well-cast with Vitalij Kowaljow providing a sonorous Friar Lawrence and Vladimir Chernov a particularly compassionate Lord Capulet. Renee Rapier iss plucky and worth hearing as Romeo’s page, while Muesop Kim brings clear diction and a lovely tone but little variety to Mercutio. Ronnita Nicole Miller finds less of interest in this Nurse than the one she played in ONEGIN, while Alexy Sayapin is a convincingly fierce Tybalt..

Ian Judge returns to stage the revival which feels tighter and less ponderous than the original, though it seems that the few comic moments the opera does allow has mostly vanished. John Gunter’s colossal moving towers work well as the set and, once again, Tim Goodchild’s stunning costumes (updated to the mid-Victorian Era) bring cohesion to the visual vocabulary of the production. In the pit, Placido Domingo is able to mine a surprising amount of variety from Gounod’s treacly score.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion    November 6 – 26, 2011



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.