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Opera Benvenuto Cellini. (Semi Staged Production)
World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - established 1783

Running time: 3 hours 15 minutes


Schedule for Benvenuto Cellini. (Semi Staged Production) 2019/2020

Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Set Designer: Zinovy Margolin
Composer: Hector Berlioz

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra

Hector Berlioz’s first opera Benvenuto Cellini. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is quite challenging technically and rarely performed. It is not part of the standard operatic repertoire. The overture to the opera often played in orchestral programs, as well as the concert overture Le carnaval romain that Berlioz composed from material in the opera. Valery Gergiev is known for his great passion to Berlioz’s music.


Benvenuto Cellini
opera in three acts
Production by Vasily Barkhatov (2007)
Libretto: Leon de Wailly and Auguste Barbier, after Celliniґs Memoirs

Performed in French

Stage Director: Vasily Barkhatov
Costume Designer: Tatyana Mashkova
Lighting Designer: Alexander Sivaev

The Performance has two intermissions

•World premiere: 10 September 1838, Academie Royale de Musique (Opera), Paris;
•Premiere of this production: 6 July 2007

Synopsis

ACT I.

Shrove Monday, sixteenth-century Rome. Pope Clement has summoned his treasurer, Balducci, to the Vatican. The prelate has commissioned Benvenuto Cellini, a hot-blooded Florentine sculptor and goldsmith, to create a statue of Perseus. Balducci mistrusts Cellini, preferring a local sculptor, Fieramosca, to whom he has promised his beautiful daughter, Teresa. From her window, Teresa watches carnival revelers, hoping to catch a glimpse of her lover — Cellini. Though Balducci is suspicious, he hurries off to see the Pope. A dutiful daughter, Teresa hesitates before allowing Cellini into the house. They sing of their love for each other and their disdain for Fieramosca, little realizing that the other sculptor has stolen into the house and is eavesdropping on them. Cellini reveals his plan to elope with Teresa to Florence: the next evening, Balducci is to attend the theater; while he watches the show, Cellini and his apprentice, Ascanio, disguised as monks, will abduct Teresa. Though she fears angering her father — and heaven — Teresa agrees to the plan. But Fieramosca overhears, and vows to thwart them. Balducci returns unexpectedly, but Cellini escapes. Trying to explain why she’s up past her bedtime, Teresa claims she heard a man in her room. This is precisely where Fieramosca has hidden himself, and when Balducci discovers the hapless Roman in his daughter’s bedroom, he refuses to hear any excuses. A crowd of neighbor women comes to Balducci’s aid and hauls Fieramosca into the garden for a dunking in the pond.

At an inn on the Piazza Colonna, Cellini muses on his newfound feeling: for the first time, love has supplanted his desire for fame. His apprentices, friends and fellow metal-workers join him. They drink to their "divine art" until the Innkeeper comes to settle the tab. Just in time, Ascanio arrives with Cellini’s commission for the statue of Perseus — which must be cast the next day. Thanks to Balducci, the commission is smaller than expected. Fieramosca enters. His friend Pompeo advises him not to reveal Cellini’s plot to Balducci but to steal it: disguised as monks themselves, Fieramosca and Pompeo will abduct the girl. Fieramosca declares that, to win Teresa, he’s willing to fight even that brigand Cellini. Fieramosca and Pompeo hurry off to disguise themselves. Balducci and his daughter arrive at the adjacent theater; even as Cellini and Ascanio appear in their disguises, Teresa has second thoughts about betraying her father’s trust. The players exhort the Roman people to watch their pantomime — which, at Cellini’s instigation, pokes fun at Balducci. Teresa begs her father to leave with her but he angrily insists on staying to the end. During the show, Cellini and Ascanio approach Teresa from one side of the theater, Fieramosca and Pompeo from the other. When Balducci, fed up, attacks the players who are mocking him, both sets of false monks fall upon Teresa — then upon each other. In the hubbub, Cellini stabs Pompeo and is arrested. Just when all appears lost, a cannon is fired from the Castel Sant’Angelo, signaling curfew and the end of Mardi Gras; all candles and torches are extinguished. In the darkness and confusion, Cellini escapes — and Fieramosca is seized as the murderer.

ACT II.

Early the next morning, Teresa and Ascanio search Cellini’s workshop for signs of the artist, who hasn’t been seen since the mélée at the theater. They see a procession of monks outside, and as the monks chant, Teresa and Ascanio pray for Cellini’s safe return. Cellini bursts in — still clad in his bloodstained habit. He describes his escape, hiding through the night, then falling in with the procession of monks until they passed by his workshop. Deeply moved, Teresa vows never again to be parted from him and urges him to flee with her. Cellini agrees, rebuffing Ascanio’s attempt to remind him of the unfinished statue of Perseus. The lovers sing of their future happiness, but before they can get away, Balducci and Fieramosca enter. Balducci inveighs against his daughter and urges the timid Fieramosca to claim her, while Cellini twits them and threatens violence. Suddenly, Pope Clement enters; Balducci and Fieramosca accuse Cellini of rape and murder, demanding justice, while the others protest Cellini’s innocence. The Pope, however, is more concerned with his statue. When he hears the Perseus has not yet been cast, he declares that he’ll have to hire someone else to do the job. Cellini is outraged: he’d sooner die than suffer the shame of allowing another artist to finish his work. The Pope orders Cellini arrested, but the sculptor threatens to demolish the clay model of his statue. The Pope consents to pardon Cellini and to grant him Teresa’s hand, on the condition that he spare the Perseus and cast it by nightfall — or be hanged.

In the Colosseum, Cellini has set up an immense foundry; it is already four o’clock. Ascanio prefers to laugh and sing rather than dwell on his master’s predicament. Alone, Cellini feels the eyes of Rome upon him and wishes he could lead the simple life of a shepherd. He isn’t serious, of course, and soon he and Ascanio are rallying workmen to prepare bronze for the casting. Accompanied by swordsmen, Fieramosca enters and demands satisfaction from Cellini; the sculptor adjourns to a nearby cloister for their duel. The moment he is out of sight, Fieramosca bribes the workmen to go on strike. Teresa arrives, and when Fieramosca returns alone, she and the workmen believe that Cellini must have been killed in the duel; the workmen attack Fieramosca. Just then, Cellini returns and orders the workmen to dress Fieramosca in an apron: his punishment will be to assist them in casting the Perseus. Balducci and Pope Clement come to watch the casting, which has barely begun when Fieramosca announces that there isn’t enough bronze to complete the job. In a creative frenzy, Cellini will do anything to bring his artistic vision to light. He orders his apprentices to melt down all his other work. They redouble their efforts — but the overloaded crucible explodes. For a moment, it seems all is lost: then the molten bronze begins to flow. The casting is saved; art has triumphed. Fieramosca is overcome by emotion and embraces his rival; Balducci willingly hands Teresa over to Cellini. The Pope, interpreting the successful casting as a sign from God, pardons Cellini, as the assemblage reprises its praise of the metal-workers’ art, which adorns the brow of the mightiest.

  • Characters





    Schedule for Benvenuto Cellini. (Semi Staged Production) 2019/2020


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