The play starts with a street brawl between Montagues and Capulets. Later, Count Paris talks to Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter. After the brawl, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Lord Montague's son, about Romeo's love for a girl named Rosaline, one of Lord Capulet's nieces. Persuaded by Benvolio and Mercutio, Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline. However, Romeo instead meets and falls in love with Juliet. After the ball, in what is now called the "balcony scene", Romeo sneaks into the Capulet courtyard and overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him. Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married.
With the help of Friar Laurence, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are married secretly the next day. Juliet's cousin Tybalt, offended that Romeo had sneaked into the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel. Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight him. Mercutio is incensed by Tybalt's insolence and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf. Mercutio is fatally wounded and Romeo, angered by his friend's death, pursues and slays Tybalt. The Prince exiles Romeo from Verona for the killing. Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they consummate their marriage.
Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a drug that will put her into a death-like coma for "two and forty hours". The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens. On the night before the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.
The messenger, however, does not reach Romeo and, instead, he learns of Juliet's apparent death. Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt. He encounters Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately. Believing Romeo to be a vandal Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris. Still believing Juliet to be dead, he drinks the poison. Juliet then awakens and, finding Romeo dead, stabs herself with his dagger. The feuding families meet at the tomb to find all three dead. Friar Laurence recounts the story of the two lovers. The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud.
Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, And the continuance of their parents' rage, Which, but their children's end, naught could remove, Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
Due famiglie, di eguale dignità, Nella bella Verona, dove la scena è collocata, piombano per rancori antichi In una nuova discordia che insozza Le mani dei cittadini col loro stesso sangue. Dai lombi fatali di questi due nemici Trae vita una coppia di sfortunati amanti Le cui sventure pietose, con la loro morte, La faida seppelliscono dei loro genitori. Il passaggio pauroso del loro amore Segnato dalla morte, l'ira protratta Dei padri loro, che nulla rimosse Se non la fine dei figli, ecco Il traffico che per due ore avrà luogo Sul nostro palcoscenico. Se vorrete ascoltare Con orecchio paziente, quel che c'è di imperfetto La nostra fatica si proverà ad emendare.
ROMEO 1 He jests at scars that never felt a wound.
2 But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? 3 It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. 4 Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, 5 Who is already sick and pale with grief, 6 That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she. 7 Be not her maid, since she is envious; 8 Her vestal livery is but sick and green 9 And none but fools do wear it; cast it off. 10 It is my lady, O, it is my love! 11 O, that she knew she were! 12 She speaks yet she says nothing; what of that? 13 Her eye discourses; I will answer it. 14 I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks. 15 Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, 16 Having some business, do entreat her eyes 17 To twinkle in their spheres till they return. 18 What if her eyes were there, they in her head? 19 The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, 20 As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven 21 Would through the airy region stream so bright 22 That birds would sing and think it were not night. 23 See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! 24 O, that I were a glove upon that hand, 25 That I might touch that cheek!
(…) JULIET 38 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; 39 Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. 40 What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, 41 Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part 42 Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! 43 What's in a name? That which we call a rose 44 By any other name would smell as sweet; 45 So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, 46 Retain that dear perfection which he owes 47 Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, 48 And for that name which is no part of thee 49 Take all myself. ROMEO 49 I take thee at thy word. 50 Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; 51 Henceforth I never will be Romeo. JULIET 52 What man art thou that thus bescreen'd in night 53 So stumblest on my counsel? ROMEO 53 By a name 54 I know not how to tell thee who I am: 55 My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, 56 Because it is an enemy to thee; 57 Had I it written, I would tear the word. Raffaele Nardella