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Benvenuto Cellini [Blu-ray]

3.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Burkhard Fritz, Laurent Naouri, Brindley Sherratt, Mikhail Petrenko, Maija Kovalevska, Philippp Stoezl, and Kate Aldrich star in this Vienna State Opera/Vienna Philharmonic production of the Berlioz opera conducted by Valery Gergiev.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: French (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, German, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Naxos Blu-ray Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • Run Time: 164 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004P4I4SW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,253 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Berlioz wrote about this early opera "a variety of ideas, a vitality and Zest and a brilliance of musical colour as I shall never find again." The opera is full of the colour of Italy,moving very quickly,and is unlike any other music he wrote again.Which contradicts the fact that he said he did not like the modern Italy of the time. The opera is based upon the memoirs of the Renaissance Florentine goldsmith and sculptor Cellini.This first opera was given at the Paris opera in 1838. From the opera comes the famous Roman Carnival overture. Naturally, the opera was not sucessful.It was from his writing that he survived. As a composer once stated"Berlioz died beneath the walls of Troy".His music and operas were misunderstood in France, although he was considered a master of orchestration.He was also the first of the true modern conductors. His work was popular in England, Germany and Russia, not in his homeland of France.

According to the notes ,the opera concerns Cellini's wooing of Teresa, the daughter of the papal treasurer,Balducci,who would prefer Teresa to marry Cellini's rival, the cowardly Fieramosca. When Cellini attempts to abduct Teresa at Carnival time, a fight ensues in which Cellini kills Fieramosca's hired assassin. Cellini disappears,returns under the cover of a monks procession, is arrested, and is pardoned by the Pope only on the hurried completion of commissioned statue of Perseus. You may think how can Berlioz make a opera out of these ideas, and make it funny in parts. He does.

The notes also state" a mix of futurism a la Metropolis, fantasy,a la Batman,juxtaposed in the form of photo montages,also a helicopter, a shark and the winged vechile of the Pope." Metropolis was a German film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927. The first Sci-fi film.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Salzburg Festival has been responsible for three of Berlioz' masterpieces; for that I suppose we must be thankful. The Damnation of Faust is, of course, not an opera. The only staged version I have seen is one from Brussels with Jonas Kaufmann, Susan Graham and Jose Van Damm. It is worth seeing and owning. I have the Troyens and now Cellini. The former is currently available in three sets, but the Cellini has no challenger and is not likely to be contested. This is a pity since the work is clearly a masterpiece, but one that is difficult to bring off. Ideally it should be sung by French trained singers, or those who have an awareness of the style and the importance of the text. The orchestra and chorus should also be French. Berlioz created a unique sound; it deserves to be honored.

Where to start? Updating frequently can add interest and make the auditor rethink his/her ideas about the work in question. In this particular case it is simply silly. Cellini makes his appearance in Act I via a helicopter! The setting is a rooftop (in Rome?) and Balducci has two robots as servants. Oh yes, Ascanio is also a robot. An hommage to Star Wars? Don't ask. If the updating were witty, imaginative, artistic and relevant I would probably sound less churlish. As it stands, however, there is nothing about the staging that I find engaging or likeable. Salzburg became (under Mortier) a showcase for outrageous staging. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not.

All of this would be academic if the singing were world class. According to the notes, Burkhard Fritz has sung Cellini before. I understand that he sings frequently at Bayreuth; no matter, as the voice is not a beautiful one nor one that is used artistically.
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Format: DVD
This is the first DVD of a very entertaining, tuneful, unjustly neglected opera, but if Berlioz & his librettists were to view it with the sound turned off (& without the introductory title & subtitles), they'd have no idea that it's "their work" being presented.

This deliberately outrageous Salzburg Festival production, with its helicopter, robots & a tattooed, rockstarrish Cellini in leather jacket, black T-shirt & jeans, renders the entire onstage enterprise a meaningless melange, with no relevance whatsoever to the historical time, place & characters the opera is about.

That said, the soloists, chorus, conductor & orchestra are all outstanding, performing with brilliance, high spirits & unflagging energy. They, as well as Berlioz & his librettists, the premium-paying Salzburg audience &, of course, we, the DVD-buying opera-loving public, all deserved better than this mindless Eurogarbage.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Maija Kovalevska makes an heroic effort here but her efforts are
swamped by the overall "eurotrash" character of the production.
One counts on Berlioz for great music and the Wiener Philharmoniker
does not disappoint but the production is a circus that music is unable
to redeem.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
With the wonders of DVD we are able to see operas which we may never have the chance to see live. Benvenuto Cellini is one of them. This performance fills a hole but is not what we want or need. The performance itself is quite good. The singers are all up to par and their acting skills are also honed. Gergiev's nervous energy keeps the Berlioz score jumping and glowing. He is perfectly on top of Berlioz' tempos and rhythms.
The production is another matter. At its best it is irrelevant: at its worst downright silly. To start with the first act seems to take place on the roof of a building looking out at a city skyscape - maybe New York. Who knows? But then we meet Mr and Mrs 3CPR as Teresa's servants. And as Anna Russell used to say, "You know I'm not making this up." Plus during the show there are various distractions projected on the back wall. Fireworks. And who knows what else.
Then we meet Cellini's apprentice Ascanio. He is R2D2 although much more feminine since this is a trouser role. Toward the end of the opera R2D2 literally loses his head. He has to sing his big aria with his head pushing up from the stage floor and his abandoned body running around desperately trying to reconnect. God knows why. Certainly there is enough action in Cellini for any director to have a ball without going out for the truly ghastly and stupid.
The pope has a role in this opera and here he appears as a lavender wearing drag queen surrounded by his foppish lackeys. Duh! Why! Is the director anti catholic. Is there some idea behind all this trash beyond the desire to be outrageous. And wait till you see the pope mobile.
At the least Regie directors should provide some game plan for their productions so that we have a slight chance of getting their message. That is provided there is one.
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