The story of this opera is taken from the source of Matteo Bandello instead of the Shakespearean text. In this version of the ill-fated lovers tale, the Capulet and Montague families are members of opposing political factions, the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Giulietta is betrothed to Tybalt, though she has already fallen for Romeo, who is the leader of the Montecchi (Montague) family. This love is further complicated by the fact that Romeo has killed Giulietta’s brother, the son of Capellio the leader of the Capuleti (Capulet) family. Bellini decided to the role of Romeo would be better suited to that of a woman, so using the tradition at the time of a “pants role”, Romeo is sung by a mezzo soprano, which makes for some exquisite duets between mezzo and soprano. The opera is classified as being written during the “Bel Canto period” of which Bellini was a huge part. This period focused on beauty of voice, long legato lines, and very ornate passages for the singers. Due to this, these pieces often require virtuosic singers. The score is packed with wonderful melodies and and touching drama that will give you a different look at a very familiar story.