Nineteenth-century Parisian composer Charles Gounod is recognized today for his two most popular operas, Faust and Roméo et Juliette. He wrote both in the grand opéra style, an avant-garde culmination of Italian, German, and French traditions. The operas mirrored classical dramas with their five-act structure, but to indulge the tastes of aristocratic patrons, composers often included an extravagant ballet number as well. This wedding march comes from Gounod’s operatic setting of Romeo and Juliet, which remains the only such adaptation of the story still performed today. While the opera stays largely faithful to Shakespeare’s play, the march is a departure from the original, inserted by Gounod as the requisite ballet scene. It is the wedding of Juliet and a match chosen by her family, during which she feigns her death, heightening the drama of fate that has caught the two lovers.
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