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Robert Benson, August 2011

BERLIOZ, H.: Benvenuto Cellini (Salzburg Festival, 2007) (NTSC) 2.110271
BERLIOZ, H.: Benvenuto Cellini (Salzburg Festival, 2007) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0006

Valery Gergiev conducts two Berlioz operas, Benvenuto Cellini in a performance from the 2007 Salzburg Festival…Benvenuto Cellini is as close as Berlioz ever got to writing a comic opera and this colorful over the top production by Philipp Stötzl is appropriate. It is one big, bizarre cartoon including robots, a helicopter, fireworks, outlandish costumes and projected effects. The cast is uniformly excellent although tenor Burkhard Fritz in the title role doesn’t settle into the role until after the first scene…

Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, April 2011

Hector Berlioz’s classic opera Benvenuto Cellini (Naxos), about the brilliant Italian sculptor, is shown in a splendid 2007 Salzburg Festival performance conducted by Valery Gergiev and starring Burkhard Fritz as Cellini

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2011

The overture to Benvenuto Cellini bursts onto your screen with Valery Gergiev exciting the Vienna Philharmonic. What happens after that was the most talked about opera production of the 2007 Salzburg Festival season. Philipp Stolzl takes us into a fantasy world where the past, present and future become merged in this version of the life of the Renaissance artist, Benvenuto Cellini. The outline of the story is of Cellini’s love for Teresa, the daughter of Balducci, the papal treasurer, who wants her to marry the nondescript, Fieramosca. At carnival time Cellini tries to abduct his beloved, only to kill Fieramosca’s hired assassin. Arrested Cellini escapes justice when he promises to complete the Pope’s commissioned statue of Perseus. All ends happily with Teresa’s father offering his daughter’s hand to Cellini. In this version Cellini first arrives by helicopter; Teresa’s servants are robots; the carnival scene is a melee of young people with the mouth of a massive fish opening up to form a stage, while the elaborate set for the final scene comes from a superb piece of stage trickery. Heading the cast is Burkhard Fritz who deals comfortably with Cellini’s role; the pretty Latvian soprano, Maija Kovalevska, is most pleasing to the ear as Teresa, while Brindley Sherratt is the big voiced Balducci. Kate Aldrich’s Ascanio, Cellini’s assistant, is outstanding in her second act aria, and I much enjoy Laurent Naouri as Fieramosca. The Vienna State Opera Chorus superbly pack the stage with activity in the carnival, and for once I will not write my usual vitriolic review of updated productions, for I found myself enjoying much of this zany presentation. Certainly the audience response was ecstatic. The excellent Brindley Sherratt, who I know well on stage, does suffer in microphone placement, but the sound is otherwise very good, and particularly so for the orchestra. The picture quality in Blu-ray is outstanding and preferable to Naxos’s earlier DVD (2.110271), the mix of long distance and close-ups being judiciously used. Sung in French with translated subtitles.

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