Béatrice et Bénédict


Berlioz Béatrice et Bénédict opera to a libretto by the composer. Directed 2106 by Laurent Pelly at the Glyndebourne Summer Festival. Stars Stéphanie d'Oustrac (Béatrice), Paul Appleby (Bénédict), Philippe Sly (Claudio), Léonato (Georges Bigot), Sophie Karthäuser (Hero), Lionel Lhote (Somarone), Frédéric Caton (Don Pedro), Katarina Bradić (Ursule), and Paul Sheridon (Notary). Antonello Manacorda, replacing the ill Robin Ticciati, directs the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Leader Vesselin Gellev) and the Glyndebourne chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Set designs by Barbara de Limburg; costumes designed by Laurent Pelly; lighting by Duane Schuler; and dialogue adapted by Agathe Mélinand. Film direction by François Roussillon; George Bruell was Executive Producer. Sung in French. Released 2017, disc has 5,1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: NA

This was Berlioz' last work and has rarely received full-blown stage treatment. It's a highly truncated version of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. According to Arkiv Music there are only 4 CD recordings of this opera. So subject title performed at Glyndebourne and recorded in Blu-ray video with the London Philharmonic Orchestra would most likely be the best record of this ever.

Print critics generally liked the music, but were less impressed by stage designs that feature huge boxes in a mostly gray world. For example, Mike Ashman, writing in the August 2017 Gramophone (page 86) concludes that this is "well recorded and filmed in a slick modern production . . . [that] deserves a place in the catalogue and on your shelves." Just looking at the early PR, I thought that Glyndebourne had made a mistake with this, but MDT Records reports that it has been a good seller.

You can get a good idea about the gray world from this clip: