Oper

Benvenuto Cellini

Hector Berlioz

Opéra-comique in three acts (Weimar version) Libretto by Léon de Wailly and Auguste Barbier

Premiere 29. June 2024

Performed in French with German and English supertitles

Info

  • Free introductory talk
  • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
    Info

    • Free introductory talk
    • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up

    • Post-Show Discussion following the performance (free admission).

    • Guided tour through the Semperoper
    Info

    • Free introductory talk
    • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up

    • Guided tour through the Semperoper
      Info

      • Free introductory talk
      • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
      Info

      • Free introductory talk
      • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
      Info

      • Free introductory talk
      • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
        Info

        • Free introductory talk
        • held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
            Sub / Packages

          The piece is also part of

            Sub / Packages

          The piece is also part of

            Sub / Packages
            Sub / Packages

          Piece-Info

          In his early opera »Benvenuto Cellini«, which premiered in Paris in 1838, Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) produced an astonishing work of art centred around one of the most important artists of the 16th century. Although the opera sketches only three days in the colourful life of the Florentine sculptor, namely between Shrove Monday and Ash Wednesday in 1532, they are tumultuous enough: After several hours in the hustle and bustle of carnival celebrations in Rome, during which Cellini fatally stabs an enemy, the artist nevertheless enjoys sweet victory at the story’s end.

          Hector Berlioz was known for his phenomenally differentiated use of the orchestra and its instruments. His many admirers included Richard Wagner. The richly varied score ranges from large-scale tableaux with rousing choral passages to uniquely orchestrated chamber scenes. In this way, Berlioz creates an unparalleled musical depiction of revelry at carnival time. 

          Plot

          Act 1 – Shrove Monday
          The papal treasurer Balducci is upset that the Pope’s comission to cast a statue of Perseus has gone to Benvenuto Cellini and not to the pontiff ’s personal sculptor Fieramosca. After Balducci, being summoned by the Pope, has left the house, his daughter Teresa stands by the window, listening to a jaunty Carnival song sung by Cellini and his friends. She falters between her feelings for Cellini, who she is secretly in love with, and her obedience to her father, who wants her to marry Fieramosca. Teresa receives Cellini in her room. Together they decide to flee the city on Shrove Tuesday in disguise. But their plan is eavesdropped on by the jealous Fieramosca. Soon afterward, Balducci returns and Cellini and Fieramosca are both forced to hide. While Cellini is able to escape, Balducci discovers the eavesdropper and boils with rage.

          Act 2 – Shrove Tuesday
          Happy in love with Teresa, Cellini meets up with his friends and pupils in the tavern to carouse. When the proprietor asks him to pay the bill for the baccanal, Cellini discovers that his wallet is empty. His apprentice Ascanio brings Cellini money from the Pope, who has granted an advance on the condition that Cellini complete the Perseus statue by the following day. Cellini gives his word and the carousal is paid for. But Cellini and his friends are angry that the papal treasurer has only given such a small amount and decide to play a trick on him. Fieramosca has meanwhile told his friend Pompeo about Cellini and Teresa’s escape plan. They want to thwart this by appearing in the same disguise as Cellini and Ascanio, making it impossible for Teresa to distinguish between them. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Carnival, Teresa, accompanied by her father, is plagued with guilt about the impending elopement, while Cellini and Ascanio are pleased that the show at Cassandro’s theater is about to begin. At this play the papal treasurer is ruthlessly satirized. Outraged, he decides to take revenge on the authors. As Cellini and Ascanio approach Teresa, Fieramosca and Pompep appear in the same disguise at the same time. A bloody confrontation ensues, during which Cellini stabs Pompeo. Cellini is initially grabbed by the people, but manages to escape when cannon shots herald the end of the Carnival, giving rise to a great commotion. Panicked, the people search for the murderer and seize Fieramosca, whom they mistake for Cellini because of his disguise.

          Act 3 – Ash Wednesday 
          Teresa talks to Ascanio about the previous day’s events. Both are happy to see Cellini return unscathed. Because of the murder, he now wants to flee with Teresa immediatly, without completing the Pope’s comission. But no escape takes place, as Balducci confronts Cellini and assails his daughter with reproaches. Furious he tells Teresa and the approaching Fieramosca that they will be getting married today. Pope Clement VII witnesses the turmoil and orders, that someone else is to complete the Perseus statue. But when Cellini threatens to destroy his model, the pontiff grants the sculptor a grace period and even impunity. Cellini agrees, but he also demands Teresa’s hand. The pope grants his wish. The artist immediately sets to work. However, since the metal runs out, he melts all the statues in his workshop. Thus Cellini achieves the impossible: the Perseus statue is cast, his murderous act is forgiven, he is permitted to take Teresa as his wife and is triumphantly celebrated by the people and the clergy as an ingenious artist.

          Recommendations