re: Tony and Riff
Last Edit: PlayWiz 05:04 pm EDT 05/08/21
Posted by: PlayWiz 05:02 pm EDT 05/08/21
In reply to: re: Tony and Riff - Michael_Portantiere 11:55 am EDT 05/08/21

I played Mercutio in a production of the Gounod opera version of "Romeo et Juliette", and it's very similar to the Shakespeare in the role's relative briefness and showiness while on stage. His big Act One showpiece is the Queen Mab aria (a wonderful and rather rangy patter piece to sing in very rapid-fire French with some twirls and dancing I used in my performance). During the slower, legato part of the piece, as Mercutio is even more directly addressing the Mab dream to Romeo, his affection for Romeo can be played up (briefly) as an underlying love and regard for his welfare. The quick part of the aria starts up again quite soon enough though without much time to do too much more physically than maybe putting my arm on his shoulder. They are two bachelors crashing the Capulet party with their friends. Mercutio starts off questioning Romeo about his recent infatuation (with Rosaline). Whether Mercutio sees that as some kind of opening for himself, perhaps? Since Romeo is the protagonist, little or nothing is said about Mercutio's latest paramour or love life. Plus, the amount of stage time between the two is relatively brief unless the director wanted to interject something more between the two in terms of physicality. Later in the opera Mercutio is injured and is carried off mortally wounded after declaring the "a plague on both your houses" equivalent in French without dying on stage. C'est dommage! Great role to sing and play though! Rather than focusing on a dream like Mab, in WSS Sondheim and Bernstein concentrated on talking about the brotherhood of the Jets in Riff's "Jet Song" in that character's big song since the focus of the musical was more on gangs.

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