Notes and Editorial Reviews
The flamboyant destiny of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, a misunderstood genius, gave Berlioz the energy to compose his first opera in 1836. It allowed him to identify with the hero of his work: a monumental struggle to create an extraordinary statue, Roman intrigues (well known to Berlioz who had just returned from Villa Medici) and the murder committed by the sculptor arouse dazzling pages in the composer. The powerful choirs evoking the Roman crowds or goldsmiths and the incredibly daring orchestral parts seem utterly innovative. The difficulties of interpretation and the monumentality of Benvenuto Cellini make him a monster both feared and admired. Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his cohort of musicians, all accomplished devotees of Berlioz, are celebrating the year of Berlioz with a presentation of this legendary piece, in a specially staged version, with the title role performed by today’s most spellbinding singer, the tenor Michael Spyres, surrounded by a dizzying distribution. The opera is performed on the historic 1837 set, recreated specially in the Royal Opera: the perfect setting for Benvenuto Cellini! Berlioz and Cellini triumph at the Palace of Versailles, dedicated “To all the glories of France”!