At least 27 operas have been based on Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET, the best known of which is Gounod's 1867 Roméo et Juliette (libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré), a critical triumph when first performed and frequently revived today. The earliest, ROMEO UND JULIE in 1776, a Singspiel by Georg Benda, omits much of the action of the play and most of its characters, and has a happy ending. It is occasionally revived. Bellini's I CAPULETI ED I MONTECCHI is also revived from time to time, but has sometimes been judged unfavourably because of its perceived liberties with Shakespeare; however, Bellini and his librettist, Felice Romani, worked from Italian sources — principally Romani's libretto for an opera by Nicola Vaccai, ROMEO E GIULIETTA — rather than directly adapting Shakespeare's play. Among later operas there is Heinrich Sutermeister's 1940 work ROMEO UND JULIA.
ROMÉO ET JULIETTE by Berlioz is a "symphonie dramatique", a large-scale work in three parts for mixed voices, chorus and orchestra, which premiered in 1839.
And it would be shame to leave the subject without mentioning the most famous musical theatre adaptation: WEST SIDE STORY with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It débuted on Broadway in 1957 and in the West End in 1958, and became a popular film in 1961. This version updated the setting to mid-20th-century New York City, and the warring families to ethnic gangs.
Come see and hear this timeless tragedy so beautifully rendered.