Nino Rota's achingly beautiful score for Zeffirelli's inspired production of Shakespeare's immortal love story is lovingly captured on this album, one of Silva Screen's most appealing and significant productions.
Rota’s touching music is respectful of character and period The opening ‘Prologue’
is wistful in mood before imposing fanfares, echoing across the sound stage,
proclaim the entrance of the Prince of Verona. The early scenes are enlivened
by a series of elegant and courtly pavanes, sarabandes and a morseca (saltarello)
- a wild and abandoned dance performed in costumes festooned with bells. The
initial music for Romeo, prior to his meeting with Juliet, is dreamy and introspective
appropriate to his character, while the motif for Juliet implies youth and purity.
The well-known love theme is tentatively introduced at their first meeting.
It is then sung, to lyrics by Eugene Walter, by Luke Bateman, and developed
in growing intensity through the balcony scene and elsewhere until it is proclaimed
in full glory in the Epilogue celebrating the lovers sacrifice and perhaps a
reconciliation between the Montagues and Capulets. A choir boy sings an ‘Ave
Maris Stella’ in celebration of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding (actually the boy-soprano
like voice of Anna Polakova) and this is also sung later by the chorus in ‘The
Likeness of Death’ as Juliet imbibes the draft that will give her the semblance
of death. Darker material, forceful and potently dramatic, underscores the violence
and final scenes of the lovers’ tragic deaths.
The booklet includes a description of Shakespeare's plot, notes about Zeffirelli's film, generally recognised as the best film version of the Bard's play, and about this new reconstruction, painstakingly assembled from studies of the film and original soundtrack album, by Mike Townend. There is also an introductory note by the composer's daughter, Nina Rota.