An Optimistic Teenager’s Favorite Aria

We all know one or perhaps were one – a headstrong teenage girl. One thing that can’t be denied is, however trivial, this stage in a maturing woman’s life is very important. At least one famous playwright thought so: William Shakespeare. You can certainly make strong arguments that Juliet is the true [tragic] hero of Romeo and Juliet and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliet is certainly not any different.

While we could sit here and compare and contrast Shakespeare’s original with Gounod’s operatic adaptation, today we are concerned with the famous aria: Je veux vivre. What role does it play in the opera?

This aria is our introduction to Juliet’s character and she’s everything that Shakespeare created. Intelligent, naive, young, loving live, and, yes, headstrong. The literate translation of the title of the aria, je veux vivre, is “I want to live.” Gounod creates the Juliet we know and possibly hate from Shakespeare through a musical style that, well, we known and possibly hate as well:  a waltz. The trivial, fun, energetic, nature of a waltz compliments everything about Shakespeare’s Juliet – one of the common links between the two masterworks.

Read an overview about the aria, watch videos and find out where you can hear Je veux vivre live.