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Allan Altman
American Record Guide, September 2018

As Balducci, the father of Teresa (the object of Cellini’s affections), Maurizio Muraro nobly sustains the various indignities to which basso-buffo characters are generally subjected, including a pie in the face. Balducci would prefer that his daughter marry the stuffy Fieramosca, played to perfection by Laurent Naouri. … Teresa herself is sung by the gifted Italian soprano Mariangela Sicilia, whose beautiful, ringing tones match her energetic and engaging stage presence. At the center of it all is American tenor John Osborn, sailing through the title role’s vocal demands with ravishing subtleties of expression and inhabiting all aspects of the romantic and audacious artist. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Michael Johnson
ConcertoNet.com, August 2018

All the roles are well cast. Mariangela Sicilia amuses as Teresa, maintaining a look of sweet innocence despite her character’s headstrong machinations. Michèle Losier as Ascanio, Cellini’s assistant, steals every scene she appears in, and her moments with Cellini foreshadow the Hoffmann-Nicklausse relationship in Offenbach’s fevered masterpiece. Orlin Anastassov, as the pope (supposedly Clement VII but who cares), has a shock-and-awe entrance outfitted as some sort of Hindu deity; at first he is rather distant from the microphones, but he eventually makes a good aural impact.

The score is notorious in having even more intricacies than the plot; the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, under the guidance of Sir Mark Elder, is close to awe-inspiring. © 2018 ConcertoNet.com Read complete review



Stephen Barber
MusicWeb International, August 2018

Mark Elder, who I know as a generalist, rather than as a specialist Berlioz conductor, secures the right Berlioz sound from the orchestra, a glitter and sparkle which carries the work through all the sometimes-creaking dramaturgy. His cast is excellent. John Osborn as Cellini is a lovely Berlioz tenor, looking the part and handling the demands of the role with aplomb. Mariangela Sicilia as Teresa has a more straightforward part as a love-sick girl—it is a fault in the libretto that she leaves her father for Cellini not once but twice—but she is convincing and sings prettily. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Hugo Shirley
Gramophone, August 2018

BERLIOZ, H.: Benvenuto Cellini [Opera] (DNO, 2015) (NTSC) 2.110575-76
BERLIOZ, H.: Benvenuto Cellini [Opera] (DNO, 2015) (Blu-ray, HD) NBD0074V

…There are some excellent musical performances, not least from Mark Elder, who brings out some fizzingly punchy playing from the Rotterdam Philharmonic. John Osborn is ideal as Cellini, too, dealing with the often stratospheric demands of the role with style, panache and a lovely command of colour and honeyed voix mixte… Michèle Losier is a terrific Ascanio, stealing the show with her brief appearances. The lower male roles are well taken, too. © 2018 Gramophone



Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, June 2018

Hector Berlioz’s 1838 grand opera Benvenuto Cellini—a largely fictionalized overview of events in the life of the great 16th century Italian sculptor—gets an energetic 2015 Dutch National Opera staging by former Monty Python member (and creator of Brazil and The Fisher King) Terry Gilliam, who squeezes out a lot more humor than drama; his cast keeps up with the frenetic pace, led by John Osborn’s Cellini. A virtually unknown opera by Niccolò Jommelli, Il Vologeso, was unearthed centuries after its 1766 premiere, but it’s such a run-of-the-mill baroque work that it’s unsurprising it’s been eclipsed by so many better operas. Still, the Stuttgart production is first-rate, as are the performers and musicians. Both operas have terrific hi-def video and audio; too bad there are no extras, since a Gilliam Cellini interview (or commentary) would have been a hoot. © 2018 The Flip Side



David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2018

We live in an age where it has become fashionable for producers to make utter nonsense of the works of the opera composers to whom they owe their livelihood. Thankfully we have the British film producer, Terry Gilliam, offering us a staging of Benvenuto Cellini that would surely have delighted Berlioz, even allowing for those rather oversized beings that invade the auditorium at the beginning of this Dutch National Opera production staged in Amsterdam in May 2015. The sets are enormous and detailed and I could well imagine the cost would have been at least equal to the total budget for a complete season in some other European opera companies, particularly when you add in the cost of the ornate costumes. To briefly summarise an opera that takes the best part of three hours, the famous Florentine sculptor, Cellini, is in love with Teresa, the daughter of Balducci, the wealthy papal treasurer, who wants her to marry the nondescript and foppish, Fieramosca. It is carnival time, and, against her father’s wishes, she views it from her window. Among the crowd is Cellini, and in the midst of the confusion created in the carnival, he tries to abduct his beloved, only to kill Fieramosca’s hired assassin. Arrested Cellini escapes justice by promising to complete the Pope’s commissioned statue of Perseus. All ends happily with Teresa’s father having to relent to his daughter’s departing with Cellini to the joy of all around him. The roles of Cellini and Theresa require vocal stamina, the much experienced and travelled American tenor, John Osborn, showing ample vocal strength and an aptitude to portray this layabout genius of a sculptor who has a history of lechery. He looks grubby and acts superbly. By contrast his very attractive Teresa comes from the young Italian, Mariangela Sicilia, a vocally beautiful lyric soprano, who visually looks perfect for the girl who is probably not as innocent as her father believes. The bass, Maurizio Muraro, and bass baritone, Laurent Naouri, are perfectly cast as the father and Fieramosca, with Nicky Spence in fine voice in the cameo role as Francesco. The playing of the Rotterdam Philharmonic is not spotlessly clean for the conductor, Mark Elder, but they give a spirited account of the famous overture which Gilliam uses to give a summary of the story thus far. Taking the best from two performances in May 2015, the filming is very good and in the Blu-ray version—which is all I have seen—the colours are well captured, and there is the usual choice of translated sub-titles. The standard DVD comes on 2.110575-76. If you have that zany Salzburg Festival production also available on Naxos, this new one will restore your faith in the world of opera producers. © 2018 David’s Review Corner





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