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Benvenuto Cellini (Mariinsky II (New) Theatre, opera)

Benvenuto Cellini (Mariinsky II (New) Theatre, opera)

Genre: Opera Age restriction: 12+ Length: 3 hours 30 minutes

 

Credits


Music by Hector Berlioz
Libretto by Léon de Wailly and Auguste Barbier, after Cellini´s Memoirs

Musical Director: Valery Gergiev
Stage Director: Alexei Frandetti
Set Designer: Pyotr Okunev
Costume Designer: Viktoria Sevryukova
Choreographer: Irina Kashuba
Lighting Designer: Gleb Filshtinsky
Musical Preparation: Natalia Mordashova
French language Coach: Ksenia Klimenko

Just like at a vibrant Italian carnival, Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini is a combination of the comic and the tragic, deep emotions and frivolity, ironic play-acting and stark spiritual nakedness. the operatic “first-born” of the great French Romantic composer is of a rare breed: it is an opera semiseria, meaning a “semi-serious” opera. Its core idea is actually totally serious: it deals with genius and the creative process, with the artist’s place in society and with the value of a work of art. In the character of the illustrious Florentine sculptor Cellini, Berlioz saw his alter ego – a genius who, so to speak, lives life on the edge, but for whom that is indeed the only way to create masterpieces. At a certain moment, matters take a truly serious turn: a murder is committed on the stage, and then the protagonist himself is within a hairbreadth of death. Berlioz, however, is no moralist: here the serious sits cheek by jowl with the comic, the lyrical heroes with the buffo characters and real people with maskers. Here there are well-developed arias of the reflexive characters, there are tremendous ensembles that are Mozartian in spirit and there are magnificent choral scenes, among them the grandiose finale of Act I of which Franz Liszt commented that it had been composed of “fiery, passionate notes”. Benvenuto Cellini is also a celebration for and of the orchestra; Berlioz, with his desire of linking the genres of opera and symphony music, composed an utterly dazzling score, filled with glorious timbre innovations. the length of the opera appeared to Liszt, who had staged it in Weimar, to be surplus to requirements, and large sections ended up being cut. the Mariinsky Theatre’s new production is based on the full and complete Paris version.

Benvenuto Cellini, with its mass street scenes, drinking-bout in a tavern, “balagan” theatre, a Roman Catholic priest as a deus ex machina and other efficacious situations, presents an alluring sphere of activity for any director of opera. Moscow stage director Alexey Frandetti could see parallels between the story of the creation of the legendary statue of Perseus and the story of the filming of Federico Fellini’s cult film . the director has transferred the plot of the opera to 1963, to a film studio in Rome where, as is well known, the greatest cinematic masterpiece of the 20th century experienced a difficulty-laden birth. the subjects are laid brilliantly one upon the other, because crises and insights, the succession of procrastination and feverish activity, financial “swings” and relying on a client will accompany artistic creativity in any and every period. Khristina Batyushina

8½. the director has transferred the plot of the opera to 1963, to a film studio in Rome where, as is well known, the greatest cinematic masterpiece of the 20th century experienced a difficulty-laden birth. the subjects are laid brilliantly one upon the other, because crises and insights, the succession of procrastination and feverish activity, financial “swings” and relying on a client will accompany artistic creativity in any and every period. Khristina Batyushina


World premiere: 10 September 1838, Académie Royale de Musique (Salle Le Peletier), Paris
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 6 July 2007
Premiere of this production: 10 November 2021

Mariinsky II (New) Theatre playbill


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