What an overweening opus! Grande Opéra! It´s the story of the libertine Benvenuto Cellini, sculptor, artistic genius, knifer and women´s darling. This diverting tale finds its analogy in a wonderful music which is not only popular but also in such a way imaginative and complex that Berlioz´contemporaries weren´t able to express it. The Wiener Philharmoniker, lead by Valery Gergiev, Laurent Naouri, Brindley Sherratt, Mikhail Petrenko, Maija Kovalevska, and Kate Aldrich can cope with this challenge. Of vital importance to this concept are the bravura performances of Burkhard Fritz in the leading part of Benvenuto Cellini and the Latvian soprano Maja Kovalevska as Teresa, a “vocal delight“ and “Salzburg discovery.“ Kovalevska, however, is only one of countless discoveries to be made in this rousing production.
It´s a fascinating play rarely enacted due to the immense effort which is necessary to bring it on stage. The wide scene of the Großes Festspielhaus meanwhile is the perfect place to reanimate the wild sculptor:
Stage director Philip Stölzl has poured his experience as director of music videos (for Madonna, Mick Jagger and others), commercials and films into this project. The result is “A mix of futurism à la ‘Metropolis,‘ fantasy à la ‘Batman‘ and quotes from Piranesi‘s ‘Carceri,‘ juxtaposed in the form of photo montages, enhanced with ... robots, a helicopter, a shark and the winged vehicle of a pop star Pope,“ effuses critic Marianne Zelger-Vogt (Neue Zürcher Zeitung).