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Florida Grand Opera: Gounod's "R&J". 05/05

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On Saturday I went to the closing of FGO's current season, which gave us Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet". Right before the performance CEO Robert Heuer came onstage to anounce that next season would be his last one. The Florida Grand Opera has commenced its search for a new CEO to replace Mr. Heuer, who is retiring after 26 seasons. He will be certainly missed. I enjoyed my 3 and 1/2 hours at the opera tremendously. Beautiful production.

From the FGO website.


Roméo et Juliette

Charles-François Gounod

Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré

Shakespeare's famous play has inspired many operas over the years, but none as enduring or successful as Charles Gounod's creation. From the breathtaking love duet at sunrise to the opera's shattering conclusion in the tomb of the Capulets, Gounod's lushly romantic music captures perfectly the unrestrained passions of youth and the tragedy visited on the lovers and their bitter rival families.

French tenor Sébastien Guèze, who sang Christian in FGO's 2011 production of Cyrano, returns to FGO as Roméo.



Sébastien Guèze


Maria Alejandres


Jonathan G. Michie

Frère Laurent

Craig Colclough

Count Capulet

Stephen Morscheck


Daniel Shirley

Duke of Verona

Joo Won Kang


Courtney McKeown


Cindy Sadler


Ryan Milstead

Count Paris

Graham Fandrei


Joseph Mechavich

Stage Director

David Lefkowich

Set and Projection Designer

Erhard Rom

Costume Designer

Jennifer Caprio

Chorus Master

John Keene

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I have mixed feelings about Heuer. I think someone else would have made Florida Grand Opera into something much bigger and better. In all fairness FGO was doing extremely well in the 1990s. It imported a fair amount of well known singers at that time and really good unknown singers. He was heading things back then, so maybe I should give him more credit. Even the total unknowns had good voices. It seemed like singers were excellent even when they were total unknowns.

I guess the economic downturn caused money to dry up, b/c just as FGO was becoming a very good opera company, someone let the air out of the balloon. Suddenly, I felt like I was listening to students sing their first major roles and failing miserably.

I was so disappointed with the singing in the two seasons before this one, that this season was the very first season I didn't even bother to go to anything at FGO. For the last 20 years I have been timing my visits to my parents' or to a friend on Marco Island (and we would drive over to Miami) so that I could also catch FGO performances, but I don't bother anymore. It is a lot of driving for not much enjoyment at this point. Again, in all fairness, I did not see this, and maybe it was wonderful. I hope so. I have to say that I think FGO needs new blood to reinvigorate the company though.

Miami City Ballet is one of the U.S.'s top ballet companies from what I can gather. But FGO is not one of the U.S.'s top opera companies. Even Dallas and Houston have better reputations. Seattle does too. FGO could and should be a better quality company.

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