Opera of the Month

Béatrice et Bénédict

We explore Laurent Pelly's production of Béatrice et Bénédict – a modernistic and daring production. Subscribers can watch now on Glyndebourne Encore.

Every month on Glyndebourne Encore – our new streaming service – we’ll be shining the spotlight on an opera, offering you deeper insights into extraordinary productions.

This July we present Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, in celebration of director Laurent Pelly and mezzo-soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac’s return to the Festival with the Poulenc Double Bill later this summer.

Over on Glyndebourne Encore, subscribers can watch Béatrice et Bénédict in full, and enjoy an exclusive introduction from opera specialist Alexandra Coghlan who talks to Berlioz scholar Hugh Macdonald and actress Katherine Parkinson to explore the opera.

A brief introduction:

Composed between 1860 and 1862, Béatrice et Bénédict is an operatic version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Like many of his contemporaries, Berlioz greatly admired the playwright, whose works inspired some of his greatest compositions.

Berlioz wrote the libretto himself and streamlined Shakespeare’s play significantly in the process, removing minor characters and darker elements such as Claudio’s accusation of Hero’s infidelity, while preserving and enhancing its sunny exterior. As director Laurent Pelly points out: ‘[It’s] more of a story inspired by the play, as opposed to an adaptation.’

Why not to miss it:

Pelly’s production, with minimalist sets and greyscale colour palette evoked vintage black and white wedding photos, and was called ‘modernistic and often daring’ by The Arbuturian.

‘The opera is a celebration of the difficulties, frailties and wonders of love between humans and what that throws up’ says our Music Director Robin Ticciati . Every number has a spark of something which is to do with Berlioz’s incredible connection with the literary world and his own imagination.’

A great moment to look out for:

Berlioz added several ravishing numbers for the female characters, including Beatrice’s beautiful aria ‘Il m’en souvient’, performed here by Stéphanie d’Oustrac:

Cast and creative team:

Laurent Pelly directed the production, bringing his trademark visual flair and surreal touches which so impressed audiences in his past productions for the Festival – Hänsel und Gretel (2008) and the Ravel Double Bill (2012).

French mezzo soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac stars as Béatrice opposite US tenor Paul Appleby as Bénédict, who were fresh from their roles in Festival 2015’s Carmen and Saul.

Subscribe to Glyndebourne Encore to watch Béatrice et Bénédict now!

Image credits: Béatrice et Bénédict, Festival 2016, photos by Richard Hubert Smith

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