Sunday, August 14, 2016

Berlioz from Glyndebourne – Only Two More Days

Will they or won't they? (B&B have a moment.)
I finally got my act together and watched Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédict from Glyndebourne. Unfortunately, it's only available for a few more days. (I don't know whose "midnight" is the cutoff time, though I'd guess it's GMT.) However, I am sure it will show up somewhere else. 

It’s not performed often, and one can imagine why. It’s a pleasant little piece, and this is a fun production, but not terribly profound or moving. It’s short enough to absorb (unlike Les Troyens) in a single shot. The cast—especially Stephanie D’Oustrac and Paul Appleby as the title couple—act well and sing beautifully. The chorus seems to have fun and does a great job (as does the orchestra!) And no one dies in this one.

The look of Laurent Pelly’s production set vaguely in a 1940s “black and white” film is startling at first, then soothing—makeup and costuming are all in blacks, whites, and greys. During the curtain calls, it’s startling again, when the “life-like” creative staff show up on stage, in an odd contrast to the cast. The set consists of boxes, representing the expected way of life that Béatrice et Bénédict do not wish to follow—they don’t want to be “put in a box.” However, if you know the play on which this is based (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which most people do in fact know), you won’t be surprised when they give in to love, and end up in a “happily married” box.

I am trying not to say “fluffy,” but there’s not a lot of substance to this little opéra comique. That said, there is some pretty music—particularly a duet and trio for the principal women, and Béatrice’s aria, in which she realizes she really is in love with Bénédict. The production is fun, well sung, and looks pretty; and it’s pretty amusing. If you can catch it on the Glyndebourne site in the next day or so, do take a watch and listen. (And/or watch for it to show up elsewhere.)


  1. Lucky people in France (or with French VPNs) can watch it till 10 September on Culturebox.

    1. Good to know for all my readers in France. Thanks for the tip!


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