I’m going to Juliet and Romeo tonight

I’m going to Juliet and Romeo tonight


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2020

Or Delilah et Samson, Isolde und Tristan, Eurydice e Orfeo.

The new equality drive starts here, at Opera du Rhin.



  • HermanntheGerman says:

    It should read OperaduRhin; Alsace-Lorraine is no longer German, Dear Norman.

  • Ben G. says:

    So far, everyone is missing the point of this article.

    We’re not talking about the national affiliation of l’Opéra du Rhin, but rather what this world is coming to in securing a cultural revolution of changing titles and labels in order to be politically correct.

    One could not let this “modern denomination” pass unnoticed, so I thought it was humorous enough to share with Norman!

    • HDSC says:

      You might also ask “why has it in the past been ‘politically correct’ to give the first name in a dyad to the male?” I actually find “Gretel and Hansel” humorous. Please lighten up!

      • Edward says:

        I would write an extensive reply, but I have 3 operas to listen to before the day is out: Dido and Aeneas, Bianca e Falliero and Beatrice and Benedict.

        • papageno says:

          you mean Dildo and Aenus, Bianca and Fellatio, Beatrice and Buono-dick.

          • Bruce says:

            The first one is old (as old as the word “dildo,” I expect) — an oldie but goodie, although misspelled — the second is not bad although nobody knows the opera; and the last, well… nice try.

  • zeno north says:

    As long as the music isn’t changed, I’m good with it. Why not? And, responding to a previous comment, shouldn’t we now be saying “Lorraine-Alsace”?

  • Couperin says:

    Bess and Porgy?

  • Humperdinck Humperdinck Humperdinck! says:

    Did you see their description of the production?

    Apparently, it draws “parallels between the children’s rite of passage and today’s social and environmental concerns.”

    Because you can’t just tell a story, I suppose.

  • Content-free programming says:

    Isn’t Gretel the smart one? Does it not matter that ‘Hansel und Gretel’ is more euphonious?

    Sullivan and Gilbert.
    Roebuck and Sears.
    Circuses and bread.
    Potatoes and meat.
    Cheese and wine.

  • Papageno says:

    I saw a Prokofiev “Romeo and Juliet” at LA Phil and they were gay males (Romeo and Julian?)
    Most distasteful and inconsiderate for us conservatives.

    • Luke says:

      To many of today’s directors, “Most distasteful and inconsiderate for us conservatives” would likely be considered the highest praise possible.

      • V.Lind says:

        Anyway, in Shakespeare’s day, Romeo and Juliet were played by guys. As was everyone else. Glenda Jackson has played King Lear and Maxine Peake has played Hamlet. You wouldn’t get me there, but it’s THEATRE. Get over it.

    • Bruce says:

      There’s a gay “Swan Lake” out there too (by Matthew Bourne), just so you know.

    • Bruce says:

      P.S. Reminds me of a witticism by someone or other:

      “A conservative is someone who believes that nothing should ever be done for the first time.”

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is a philosophical and logistical problem, so: a ‘philogistical’ one. Tristan und Isolde is suppressing the female, but the only other possible version Isolde und Tristan suppresses the male. Given the suppression of females over the ages, turning the titles around would be a compensatory measure, but it is still not equal. And so it is with all the couples in opera and theatre. Better is; inventing an entirely new title which is PC.

    Tristan und Isolde: Der verfluchte Getränk
    Pelléas et Mélisande: La Chevelure Catastrophique or: Un Amour Incompréhensible
    Romeo and Julliet: Dangerous Balcony Climbing
    Etc. etc…

  • Hmus says:

    Don’t worry – you’ll never see a production of Fennimore and Gerda no matter which name they put first.

  • Peter says:

    Provocations aside, is there a general pattern to the ordering of duplets ?
    Porgy & Bess – how Bess influenced Porgy, Lady and the Tramp, Samson & Delilah – again the lead and the influencer, thus the difference In framing between The King and I vs Anna and the King. Victoria & Albert, vs William & Mary – obvious. But Laurel & Hardy – wasn’t Hardly the more significant ? Ladies and Gentlemen vs Mr & Mrs, why is a Black & White TV that way round. Why Flanders & Swann, Gilbert & Sullivan, but George & Ira Gershwin ? Why apples & pears not pears and apples, why not pepper & salt, or vinegar and salt ? Bangers go on top of the mash, but pudding goes under the custard, and Fish goes beside Chips. Brimstone is added to Treacle, I’ve no idea how Bubble relates to Squeak. Why the less significant leads in Nuts & Bolts, Is it a pattern of significance, or familiarity, or sexism, or the longer word often sounds better first ? Or the good old English rules that are generally not followed ?

    All insights welcomed.

  • Pater Profundus says:

    The word order is governed by linguistic imperatives (greater obstruction is normally followed by less – think about what’s happening in your mouth when you say the words) so the reversals will seem particularly disruptive.

  • Bruce says:

    Well… they’ll try it and eventually they will decide (or their public will decide for them) that it’s silly, and they’ll stop. No need to get worked up about it in the meantime.

  • buxtehude says:

    They and They

  • Passo Carrabile says:

    This is about “virtue signaling”, at best it’s harmless; at worst, mildly irritating.

    In her latest novel (The Searcher), the author Tana French (b 1973) provides an exemplary definition of “virtue signaling”.

    The main character – Cal – is reflecting on his daughter’s boy friend:

    “Ben damn near lost his mind over the importance of using the proper terms for people in wheelchairs, and he clearly felt pretty proud of himself for doing that, but he didn’t mention ever doing anything useful for one single person in one single wheelchair, and Cal would bet a year’s pension that the little twerp would have brought it up if he had. And on top of that, the right terms change every few years, so that someone who thinks like Ben has to be always listening for other people to tell him what’s moral and immoral now. It seems to Cal that this isn’t how a man, or a woman either, goes about having a sense of right and wrong…. Everyone was always talking about talking, and the most moral person was the one who yelled at the most other people for doing the talking all wrong.”

    In a nutshell, the measure of virtue is not words, but deeds. Words, not deeds, are the stock in trade of most politicians. It is a skill they have developed over years of practice, and their blind followers are satisfied by simply modelling them.