Terry Gilliam’s second foray into opera direction, again Berlioz, is if anything more successful than the first. I hadn’t known any of Berlioz’s 1838 opera Benvenuto Cellini, which tells the story of Cellini’s brush with both papal and paternal wrath in his simultaneous failure to cast a monumental statue of Perseus and his attempts to woo the daughter of a papal exchequer. The work seems sprawling, to put it mildly, and rambles along with rousing ensembles punctuated by less distinctive recitatives and short arias. Gilliam’s madcap treatment of the work would appear to meet its flaws head on in a spirit of riotous abandon. (more…)
Such a lot has already been written about ENO’s The Damnation of Faust, the rather shapeless but lovable piece of Berlioz that has been panel-beaten into a concept by Terry Gilliam. It was a really good evening at the theatre. Not sure it did Berlioz very much good, though.
It’s always been a problem, as many have remarked: not an opera, not an oratorio, but a ‘legende dramatique‘. When composers start inventing new terms for their dramatic – and not so dramatic – works, preparations should be made for an unconventional evening out. Bühnenweihfestspiel, anyone? (more…)