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A Village Romeo and Juliet

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A Village Romeo and Juliet
Opera by Frederick Delius
LibrettistJelka and Frederick Delius
21 February 1907 (1907-02-21)

A Village Romeo and Juliet is an opera by Frederick Delius, the fourth of his six operas. The composer himself, with his wife Jelka, wrote the English-language libretto based on the short story "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" by the Swiss author Gottfried Keller. The first performance was at the Komische Oper Berlin on 21 February 1907, as Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe. Thomas Beecham conducted the British premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London on 22 February 1910.[1] The US premiere was on 26 April 1972 in Washington, D.C.[2]

The New York City Opera (NYCO) staged the work in 1973 for the opera's New York City premiere with Richard T. Gill as Marti, June Angela as the child Vreli, Patricia Wells as the adult Vreli, John Stewart as Sali, David Holloway as the Dark Fiddler, and Thomas Jamerson as the Three Barge Men.[3] In his review of the NYCO production, music critic Allen Hughes wrote, "This piece has had few productions in the 72 years of its existence, and the reasons for that are not hard to find. To begin, it is, essentially, two hours of mood music for orchestra with secondary parts for singers, and the orchestra envisioned by Delius was so vast as to be impractical for conventional opera presentation. Furthermore, the staging implications were such that they could not be realized adequately in a theater depending upon physical sets and for effects."[3]

While the opera has rarely been staged, the orchestral interlude between Scenes 5 and 6, "The Walk to the Paradise Garden", is heard separately in concerts and has been recorded many times.


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 21 February 1907
(Conductor: Fritz Cassirer)[4]
Manz baritone
Marti baritone
Sali, son of Manz as a child soprano
Sali, son of Manz as a man tenor Willi Merkel[4]
Vreli, daughter of Marti soprano Lola Artôt de Padilla[4][5][6]
The dark fiddler baritone Desider Zádor[7]
Two peasant men baritones
Three peasant women sopranos
Gingerbread woman soprano Minnie Egener[7]
Wheel of fortune woman soprano
Cheap jewellery woman mezzo-soprano
Merry-go-round man baritone
Slim girl soprano
Wild girl mezzo-soprano
Poor horn player tenor
Hunchbacked bass player bass

The premiere of the English version featured Walter Hyde as Sali; Ruth Vincent as Vrenchen (Vreli); Robert Maitland as the Black Fiddler (sic); Harry Dearth as Manz; Dillon Shallard as Marti; Muriel Terry as the young Sali and the Wild Girl; Betty Booker as the young Vrenchen and the Slim Girl; Arthur Royd as the Poor Horn Player; and Albert Archdeacon as the Hunchback Bass Player.[8]



Year Cast Conductor,
Opera house and orchestra
1948 Rene Soames,
Vera Terry,
Gordon Clinton,
Denis Dowling,
Frederick Sharp
Sir Thomas Beecham,
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
Audio CD: EMI Classics,
Cat: ??
Audio CD: Naxos,
Cat: 8.110982-83
1971 Robert Tear,
Elizabeth Harwood,
John Shirley-Quirk,
Benjamin Luxon
Meredith Davies,
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
John Alldis Choir
Audio CD: EMI Classics,
Cat: ?[9][10]
1989 Arthur Davies,
Helen Field,
Thomas Hampson,
Stafford Dean,
Barry Mora
Sir Charles Mackerras,
ORF Symphony Orchestra
Arnold Schönberg Choir
Audio CD: Decca,
Cat: 430 275-2
Dana Moravkova,
Michel Dlouhy,
Thomas Hampson,
Katerina Svobodova,
Jan Kalous
Petr Weigl movie
(Video recording, using the Mackerras recording for its soundtrack)
DVD Video: Decca,
Cat: B-0000-838-09
1995 Eva-Christine Reimer,
Karsten Russ,
Klaus Wallprecht,
David Midboe,
Attila Kovacs
Klauspeter Seibel,
Kiel orchestra, Kiel chorus
(Recording of a performance in Kiel, Germany, sung in German)
Audio CD: company??
Cat: CPO 999 328-2



  1. ^ Redwood 1975.
  2. ^ Ashbrook 1991.
  3. ^ a b Allen Hughes (8 October 1973). "'Village Romeo and Juliet' Sparkles at City Opera". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c The Musical Times 1907.
  5. ^ Biography Artot de Padilla biography
  6. ^ Opera Almanac
  7. ^ a b Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "A Village Romeo and Juliet, 21 February 1907". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  8. ^ "Music – Royal Opera Covent Garden", The Times 23 February 1910, p. 13
  9. ^ Anderson 1973.
  10. ^ Anthony Payne, Review of recording of "Delius: A Village Romeo and Juliet". Tempo (New Series), 106, pp. 53'54 (1973).
  11. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Gottfried Keller". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 20 February 2015.


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