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Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: French, German, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Naxos
  • Release Date: April 26 2011
  • ASIN: B004P4I4SW

Product Description

Burkhard Fritz (Benvenuto Cellini) - Maija Kovalevska (Teresa) - Laurent Naouri (Fieramosca) - Brindley Sherratt (Giacomo Balducci)... - Wiener Philharmoniker - Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor - Valery Gergiev, direction

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Do not miss Benvenuto Cellini by Berlioz. July 18 2011
By Ultrarunner - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Berlioz wrote about this early opera "a variety of ideas, a vitality and Zest and a brilliance of musical colour as I shall never find again." The opera is full of the colour of Italy,moving very quickly,and is unlike any other music he wrote again.Which contradicts the fact that he said he did not like the modern Italy of the time. The opera is based upon the memoirs of the Renaissance Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Cellini.This first opera was given at the Paris opera in 1838. From the opera comes the famous Roman Carnival overture. Naturally, the opera was not sucessful.It was from his writing that he survived. As a composer once stated"Berlioz died beneath the walls of Troy".His music and operas were misunderstood in France, although he was considered a master of orchestration.He was also the first of the true modern conductors. His work was popular in England, Germany and Russia, not in his homeland of France.

According to the notes ,the opera concerns Cellini's wooing of Teresa, the daughter of the papal treasurer,Balducci,who would prefer Teresa to marry Cellini's rival, the cowardly Fieramosca. When Cellini attempts to abduct Teresa at Carnival time, a fight ensues in which Cellini kills Fieramosca's hired assassin. Cellini disappears,returns under the cover of a monks procession, is arrested, and is pardoned by the Pope only on the hurried completion of commissioned statue of Perseus. You may think how can Berlioz make a opera out of these ideas, and make it funny in parts. He does.

The notes also state" a mix of futurism a la Metropolis, fantasy,a la Batman,juxtaposed in the form of photo montages,also a helicopter, a shark and the winged vechile of the Pope." Metropolis was a German film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927. The first Sci-fi film. The feminoid robot is an evil double of Maria, a pacifist attempting to help the workers. The robot goes from dancing naked in a decadent nightspot and inciting a riot in the film. The robot is Ascanio an assistant to Cellini in this opera. So you can see the relationship between the film and the opera, for the Robot is involved in the carnaval.There is a connection, but she is not evil.

At the beginning, the dark background is a cityscape, an updated version of the city in Metropolis. The two colourful robots helpers to Teresa, are inspired by Metropolis. After the beautiful aria, Teresa wears a light yellow dress, the two robots have blue light shone on them, the same tones as the Yellow and the orange doorway at the side. Blue and Yellow are complimentary colours. The carnaval is a riot of light colours, all blended in with a dark ultramarine background.Every movement and colour is well thought out. The Shark is used as a stage to poke fun at Balducci,Mr money bags. Themes and tunes come thick and fast, with a Rossini zest, but sounding nothing like it. His sound is so unusual because Berlioz couldnt play a piano ,but a guitar. Listen to the choir singing words to the Roman Carnival theme, unbelievable. How can people miss such a performance as this because of this nonsense about modern vs traditional staging. Act one is simply beautiful and full of youthful Zest.

The Pope arrives in Act 11, in pink with his helpers dressed the same, a rock star pope. He wants his Statue. After a period of time he does get it. But in between the workers go on strike and will not cast the statue. Teresa and Ascanio think Cellini has been murdered, but he hasnt. The workers attack Fieramosca and find gold in his pockets to bribe the workers to stop working.Cellini turns up gives his rival the chance to work on the statue,or thrown in the furnace. Naturally, he chooses life. The end is cheerful. Cellini obtains the Popes forgiveness and Teresas hand.
You may notice the robot out of Metropolis, which is apt for the scene with the workers. At one point, the robot has no head, it is singing while sticking out the floor. A imaginative touch. Near the beginning of Act there is a marvellous duo between Ascanio and Teresa and some monks are passing singing in Latin. See the dark background and how the Green costume and Gold robot suit stand out. Act 11 is darker then Act One. In this act you see Berlioz mixing together Masses, symphonic music, arias and lighter music. At that time no one else was doing this. The Furnace scene has to be seen to be believed and heard. Parts of Act One do remind me of Rameau's Les Indes Galantes,by Rameau and conducted by Christie.

The stage director is Phillip Stozl who directed Rienzi. He follows the Libretto. You can just watch the Blu Ray and you get the idea of what is happening. That is his tradmark. He was a film director.The Vienna Philharmonica is conducted by Valery Gergiev extremely fast. Which shows how this helps the choir and singers. You can hear the themes so clearly.Cellini is Burkhard Fritz suited for the part. Teresa is 26 year old Marja Kovalesvska with a beautiful voice, ideal for this part. Fieramosca Laurent Naouri is funny in his role,he has been around for a while. Then we have the Mezzo, Kate Aldrich. I have seen her in a few Blurays and what can one say. The crowd went bonkers when she gave her bow at the end. All the roles are well sung. The scenery and the colours are the best,very sophisicated. This is a Bluray you can love regardless of taste. Who would have believed this came out of the 2007 Salzburg Festival. Bravi.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An heroic effort to extract art from chaos March 24 2013
By Louie - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Maija Kovalevska makes an heroic effort here but her efforts are
swamped by the overall "eurotrash" character of the production.
One counts on Berlioz for great music and the Wiener Philharmoniker
does not disappoint but the production is a circus that music is unable
to redeem.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Cartoon Cellini April 22 2011
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
I'm in two minds about Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini but I don't think it has anything to do with Philipp Stölzl's extravagant and somewhat eccentric direction of the composer's lesser-known opera produced here for the Salzburg Festspiele in 2007. A huge colourful cartoonish spectacle, with a Metropolis-like retro-futuristic city populated by clunky robots standing in for 16th century Rome, it's surely far from what Berlioz would have imagined for a staging, and one wonders whether it best serves the subject of the Florentine sculptor working on a commission for Pope Clement VII who becomes embroiled in a romantic tug-of war with a rival over the daughter of the papal Treasurer.

On the other hand, Benvenuto Cellini is hardly a serious opera, written principally for entertainment, seeming to play with all the tools of operatic composition. It shows some of the sense of playful academicism that you would find in Rameau, particularly something like Les Indes Galantes (the William Christie production is a must-see) - a huge colourful pageant that delights in showing off its over-the-top dramatic situations with elaborate staging and extravagant musical flourishes. So while Stölzl's outrageous production seems to go out of its way to irritate those who like their opera done in a period traditional manner, it perfectly suits the tone of the musical and dramatic content and serves it well. Done any other way, taken more seriously, one would imagine that the whole enterprise would end up looking and sounding dreadfully self-important.

Where I really have doubts however is in regards to whether the opera is actually any good, or whether Berlioz, never one to do things by halves, indeed doesn't really go over-the-top in his scoring of the huge dramatic swathes of music, with big arrangements that underscore everything, self-indulgent singing that is close to bel canto, and huge raucous, rousing choruses dropped in at every available opportunity. Having resided in Italy prior to writing the opera Berlioz, although professing a dislike of the Italian style, certainly seems to have absorbed the nature of the Italian temperament here, playing to the stereotypes of Latin passions, religious fervour and artistic licentiousness. Setting the first act of the opera on Shrove Tuesday during a Mardi Gras parade is all the justification that is needed to indulge in extravagant displays of orchestration and singing.

Act II has a slightly more varied tone, much as the two parts of Les Troyens show different qualities in Berlioz's writing, but there's a sense that it is still rather pompous in its solemnity, particularly when Pope Clement arrives on the scene. Unable to play this with a straight face, Stölzl opts for the camp qualities that are inherent within the scene, which is certain to infuriate traditionalists. It's difficult to judge the qualities of the opera when it is played this way, when another interpretation might convincingly put another complexion on it entirely - not that we are likely to see too many productions of this work - but that's what opera is all about. Regardless of whether this particular version is to one's taste, it's approached with genuine feeling for the work and launched into vigorously under the baton of Valery Gergiev. At the very least, it's highly entertaining.

Moreover, it looks and sounds terrific in High Definition on the Naxos Blu-ray. A word of warning however - it is one of those discs that takes time to load up into the player, a pointless practice that can introduce some player-related problems. Personally, I found it impossible to access the pop-up menu for chapter selection during play, but I didn't come across anything more serious than this.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Excellent.. Spectacular masterpiece Feb. 27 2012
By rinaldo - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I am from South Korea and I am a fourteen-year-old student. I saw Benvenuto Cellini for the first time ever in my life and it's perfect. Everything, such as the singers, the production, the conductor Gergiev, etc., was good. Cellini is a bright, comic and beautiful opera. Also, I was kind of shocked when I heard the music. It was the same as Donizetti's music. It was not Berlioz's music. The production was thrilling. Philipp Stozl used time machine. He changed 1800s to future. On the stage, there are robots, parties like Haloween, and strange things. The Lativian soprano, Maija Kovalevska, has beautiful, soft voice and is excellent Teresa. Burkhard Fritz, whose voice I first heard of here, was amazing. Laurent Naouri matches with his role, Fieramosca. Kate Aldrich is a witty, charming, and funny Ascanio. The conductor Valery Gergiev catches the audience and orchestra. I think Benvenuto Cellini is one of the excellent operas I've ever listened. I want to say to this opera, "Bravissimo!!"