Bellini's music, the apex of the bel canto (beautiful song) style of writing, is what gives this abbreviated telling of the story its passion and depth - that, and the fact that we know these characters before the curtain rises.
The part of Romeo was sung by mezzo-soprano Marianna Kulikova. Corliss Phillabaum's Program Notes inform us "The use of female singers for romantic heroes of the early 19th Century by composers such as Bellini and Rossini derived from a combination of traditions that were well-established before 1800." Perhaps drama departments offer courses in distinguishing when cross-dressed casting is traditional or avant-garde.
The production was dedicated to the memory of Dominic Frinzi who had long advocated for a Florentine production of a Bellini opera, but died earlier this year before he could see this one.
Also by Phillabaum, "For the Ear and the Eye: I Capuleti e i Montecchi on CD and DVD.