Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Heavy lifting falls to the leads in Opera Tampa's 'Romeo and Juliet'

Richard Troxell and Sarah Joy Miller impress as the leads in Opera Tampa’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Straz Center

Richard Troxell and Sarah Joy Miller impress as the leads in Opera Tampa’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

TAMPA — Drama is great in opera when you can get it. It has never been considered essential, at least not when compared with the music, with which things like acting and character and staging are at best unequal partners.

When the opera is Romeo and Juliet, written tightly around its romantic leads, it does help if the singers can not only sing the lines but also embody them. Fortunately for Opera Tampa, which opens its season with Charles Gounod's adaptation of the Shakespeare play, those theatrical elements are in place. Richard Troxell, who started off as a musical theater actor, gives the role of Romeo a sense of longing and desperation and joy. His liquid tenor surfs a crest of emotion, elevating the show a notch higher while capturing its heart.

Sarah Joy Miller's brightness and rapid vibrato suits the buoyant Juliet in the initial encounters with Romeo. Her voice expands and deepens in the more pensive arias, coloring the text all the more effectively by virtue of its restraint. Both she and Troxell have played the title roles before, and it shows. (The pair also worked together in the New York City Opera's production of Anna Nicole, in which Miller played Anna Nicole Smith and Troxell played a plastic surgeon.)

Players in supporting roles stepped up when called upon. The rivalry between Romeo's friend Mercutio, portrayed with bravado and a rich baritone by Gabriel Preisser, and Daniel T. Curran as Juliet's cousin Tybalt, provides necessary hostility between the clans, mostly because Curran, in his Opera Tampa debut, augments a rapierlike tenor with believable adolescent swagger and snarl. Won Cho returns to the Tampa Bay area stage, underscoring the gravitas of it all as Lord Capulet in a beautiful bass-baritone.

Robyn Rocklein adds a subtle humor to her mezzo-soprano counterpart as Juliet's nurse, Gertrude; and mezzo Kimberly Sogioka shines in her aria as Stephano, Romeo's impetuous page. Bass-baritone David Cushing lends the production its most glorious support as the couple's ally, Friar Lawrence, who gives Juliet a potion that will simulate death long enough for her to escape her father's demand that she marry Count Paris.

Of course, an exiled Romeo believes she is dead and takes poison to join her in eternity. Unlike the play, Juliet awakens in time to sing a protracted duet before he dies and she stabs herself, a bit of drama added by librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carré.

Troxell does the heaviest lifting, adorning Romeo with emotion and so much flowing exactitude, it is impossible not to focus on him when he is singing. Troxell and Miller combine for a soaring duet in Juliet's room at dawn, the bittersweet next-to-last scene ("Parting is such sweet sorrow.") before he must leave town. Moments like these, with full backing in staging, costumes, ensemble and orchestra, give Opera Tampa the splash it needed to start the season.

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

. If you go

Romeo and Juliet

The opera starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $49.50 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

Review: Heavy lifting falls to the leads in Opera Tampa's 'Romeo and Juliet' 01/21/17 [Last modified: Sunday, January 22, 2017 4:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ticket window: Shania Twain, Chicago, George Benson

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 01:  Singer Shania Twain performs during the debut of her residency show "Shania: Still the One" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on December 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
  2. Plan your weekend Aug. 25-27: Craig Morgan, Wearable Art 13, SNL's Pete Davidson, Rodeo Fest

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    USF

    Pete Davidson: Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will headline this year's University of South Florida Round-Up Comedy Show, a back-to-school tradition at USF. Expect to hear about his recent trip to rehab, since he's known for his confessional …

    The 12th annual Wearable art Fashion Show was held at the Dunedin Fine Art Center on Saturday evening, August 27, 2016.
DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times
  3. Pasco Events for Aug. 25-31

    Events

    25 Friday

    Feeding Pasco's Elderly hosts inaugural Leadership Breakfast: The Pasco County Elderly Nutrition Division/Feeding Pasco's Elderly will host this east Pasco event to mirror the Ambassador's Breakfast fundraising event that has been held the past two years on the county's west side. County …

  4. Local craft beer of the week: Cherry Pastelitos, Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    On Saturday, Tampa's Coppertail Brewing Co. will celebrate its third anniversary with a Florida weisse festival, showcasing densely fruited tart wheat beers from more than a dozen Tampa Bay area breweries including, of course, many of its own brews in this summer-friendly style.

    Center: Coppertail Brewing’s Cherry Pastelitos. Flanking it are Coppertail’s BOMP (blood orange, mango, passionfruit), left, and Pinky Swear (pink lemonade-flavored).
  5. 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' opens run at Show Palace Dinner Theatre

    Stage

    The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson takes a nostalgic swing through the 1950s and '60s with its production of Smokey Joe's Cafe, which opens Aug. 26. The local offering of the longest-running rock 'n' roll revue in Broadway history features the legendary pop tunes of hit makers Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. …

    A local production of the 1950s and '60s musical revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe" opens Aug. 26 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.