Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus with the head of Medusa (detail), 1553

Benvenuto Cellini, “Perseus with the head of Medusa” (detail), 1553

© Wikimedia Commons

Visiting Orchestras / London I

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
Opening Concert
Hector Berlioz Year 2019

Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, founded by the conductor, and the Monteverdi Choir will present a semi-staged performance of “Benvenuto Cellini”, Hector Berlioz’ first opera, at the start of the 2019 Musikfest Berlin on 31 August at the Berlin Philharmonie.

  • 3 h
  • In French with German surititles

It is hard to believe: Berlin, where Hector Berlioz had once felt at home and accepted, avoided a performance of his first opera – almost as if there were something improper about it. In 1838, “Benvenuto Cellini” was premiered in Paris. The subject matter was one that the composer had already addressed in different forms: Both the “Symphonie fantastique” and “Lélio or the Return to Life” dealt with “episodes from the life of the artist”, partly as pure instrumental music, guided by the main classical genre, and partly as a hybrid of music and narrative. With “Cellini”, the subject finally arrived in the arena where it could have the greatest impact in France – the opera. The story of the Renaissance-sculptor Cellini is set during the time of the Carnival, when normal conditions are turned upside-down and masks can reveal just as much as they conceal. By creating the perfect work of art, the artist manages to win both his beloved and absolution from a Carnival-murder.

The opera was first presented in Weimar in 1952 – in an abridged German-language version. In 1894, it was presented in Berlin for the first and only time. There was a concertante performance in 2003 at the Berlin Konzerthaus, formerly Schauspielhaus. Now, the work will be presented in a semi-staged version at the Philharmonie: with costumes, lighting and staging, but without a stage set. Sir John Eliot Gardiner will lead a highly attuned and committed ensemble of soloists, the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in a performance that will be exclusive to the Musikfest Berlin.

Concert Programme

Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869)
Benvenuto Cellini
Opéra Comique op. 23 (1834 – 1838)
Libretto by Léon Wally and Henri-August Barbier based on the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini translated by Denis Dominique Farjasse

Semi-staged performance
Adapted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner


Michael Spyres tenor (Benvenuto Cellini)
Sophia Burgos soprano (Teresa)
Matthew Rose bass (Giacomo Balducci)
Adèle Charvet mezzo soprano (Ascanio)
Tareq Nazmi bass (Pope Clemens VII)
Krystian Adam tenor (Francesco)
Lionel Lhote baritone (Fieramosca)
Ashley Riches bass baritone (Bernardino)

Fabian Aloise movement director

Monteverdi Choir
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Sir John Eliot Gardiner conductor

Only performance in Germany as part of the European tour 2019 (La Côte-Saint-André, Berlin, London, Paris).

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event,
funded by means of the Capital Cultural Funds

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