Béatrice et Bénédict

Béatrice et Bénédict

Hector Berlioz

OPÉRA COMIQUE in two acts, 1862.Libretto by Hector Berlioz based on Much Ado about Nothingby William Shakespeare

Presentation of the work 30 minutes prior to each performance

Musical direction, Emmanuel Krivine
Stage direction, Dan Jemmett

With Christine Rice, Allan Clayton, Ailish Tynan, Elodie Méchain, Edwin Crossley-Mercer, Jérôme Varnier, Michel Trempont, Giovanni Calò, Bob Goody, David Lefort

les éléments
La Chambre Philharmonique

Présentation

Renaissance Italy, the grand shores of Sicily, the winds from the sea and war epics, the battles of wits in courts where lords and artists develop a common way of life: romantic reverie during the first centuries of modern history gave numerous masterpieces to the plastic arts and opera. For an idealist coupled with a lover of Italy such as Berlioz, Shakespeare’s comedy depicts a long-entertained subject. With this return to sources, Berlioz created a work that reflected him – caustic and tender, sublime and grotesque, sensitive and powerfully lyrical – and one of the most beautiful compositions of the genre.
“Love cannot give an idea of what music is, music can give an idea of what love is… Why distinguish the one from the other? They are the two wings of the soul.” Hector Berlioz
 


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Cast

Musical direction, Emmanuel Krivine
Stage direction, Dan Jemmett
Scenery, Dick Bird
Costumes, Sylvie Martin-Hyszka
Lighting, Arnaud Jung
Choreography, Cécile Bon
Musical assistant, Neil Beardmore
Direction of the chorus, Joël Suhubiette
Stage direction assistant, Meriam Korichi
Choral director, Nathalie Steinberg

Béatrice, Christine Rice
Bénédict, Allan Clayton
Héro, Ailish Tynan
Ursule, Elodie Méchain
Claudio, Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Don Pedro, Jérôme Varnier
Somarone, Michel Trempont
Leonato, Giovanni Calò
Alberto (le narrateur), Bob Goody
Le Messager, David Lefort (membre du chœur les éléments)

les éléments La Chambre Philharmonique

Production, Opéra Comique
Co-production, Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg
Associate co-producer, Palazzetto Bru Zane – Centre de musique romantique française


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Synopsis

Act I
In Messina in the 16th century the Sicilians celebrate victory over the Moors by the troops of valiant general Don Pedro, whom governor Léonato is about to receive. His daughter Héro awaits the return of her beloved Claudio with impatience, but her niece Béatrice taunts military valor, aiming her sarcastic remarks at another officer, Bénédict. The reunion is as tender between the engaged couple as it is stormy between Béatrice and Bénédict, who trade insults and mockery with a strange pleasure. When Claudio learns of his imminent nuptials from the general, he is as delighted as Bénédict is horrified. Don Pedro and Claudio conspire to lead the two enemies to also marry in accordance with the governor’s secret wish. Somarone, the music teacher, conducts his choir and orchestra for the evening festivity. His so-called masterpiece is given a rough handling by the choristers and rehearsed before a general not so keen on music. When the musicians have left, the general and Claudio start a conversation about Béatrice with the purpose of making Bénédict believe that she is madly in love with him. The young man eventually recognizes Béatrice’s qualities and decides to give up his pride and succumb to love. On her part, Héro had a similar discussion with her attendant Ursule and Béatrice overheard them. The night is falling with its share of promises.

Act II
In the governor’s palace, the banquet is in full swing and the cellar is soon empty. Already quite drunk, Somarone improvises a drinking song for the guests before the ceremony. Béatrice is tormented by her feelings but she eventually admits to herself that she loves Bénédict and that her aversion might have been fear to yield to love. Surprised and overjoyed to find a softened Béatrice, Héro and Ursule undertake to convert her to marriage. Before the wedding celebration, the two former enemies are on the verge of quarreling but Bénédict succeeds in stirring the defiant maiden. As the bridal procession enters, a second marriage contract is produced which hastens avowals: Béatrice and Bénédict get married… for the better and for the worse.


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