Romeo et Juliette to bring tragic love story to The Lyric

Sarah Joy Miller wants to make it perfectly clear as to what the audience should expect when Romeo et Juliette takes the stage for two shows at The Lyric this weekend.

“We are giving you the most delicious chocolate cake and ice cream,” she said. “You know exactly what you are getting. Sometimes people want to update something or make it new, and that’s OK, but with this Romeo and Juliette, you’re getting it exactly how it should be. It’s in the same time period and the same characters.”

Miller plays Juliette – perhaps the most iconic female character in opera history – in the timeless, tragic love story between two teenagers from feuding families.

“There’s a certain sense of pressure when it comes to playing Juliet because she’s been such an epic role through the years,” she said.

The version of Romeo et Juliette that The Lyric will host on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. and May 15 at 3 p.m. is expressed through the music of the French romantic composer Charles Gounod and the Baltimore Opera’s Concert Artists led by Maestro Adam Turner. It’s sung in French with English surtitles.

Miller is no stranger to the spotlight. The soprano who The New York Times called “vivacious and fearless” has had numerous starring roles throughout her career, including as Gilda in Rigoletto; Leila in Pearl Fishers; Marguerite in Faust; Musetta in La boheme; Micaela in Carmen; and Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole.

Now, she’s Juliette Capulet, who falls in love with Romeo Montague. The families hate each other. What could possibly go wrong in this love story based on the William Shakespeare classic?

“Juliette is from a very powerful family and she’s protected by her family and is very close with her father and that’s a big part of who she is,” Miller said.

Jonathan Boyd plays Romeo, while Luis Alejandro Orozco plays Mercutio and Kevin Langan is Father Laurent.

The performance is a new co-production shared by Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, with an opulent and traditional concept, directed by Shakespearean specialist Bernard Uzan.

“The original Romeo and Juliet was a three-hour opera and then a ballet,” Miller said. “What’s unique about this is when the scenes are changing, the audience can hear the ballet  music and just won’t have to look at an empty stage.”

Romeo et Juliette

Where: The Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric

When: May 13 at 7:30 p.m.; May 15 at 3 p.m.

Tickets:  $50, $65, $90, $100, $115, $125, $155, $165