Berlioz’s whimsical and nostalgic take on Shakespeare’s great comedy Much Ado About Nothing graces the stage of Glyndebourne in Laurent Pelly’s astute 2016 production. Italian maestro Antonello Manacorda leads the London Philharmonic in Berlioz’s brilliant score.
Premiered in 1862 at the Neues Theater in Baden-Baden, Béatrice et Bénédict was the realization of a fervent Shakespeare-admirer’s longtime wish to adapt the playwright’s comedic masterpiece. In what would become his last lyric work before his death seven years later, Berlioz oscillates between melancholy and carelessness, gravity and lightness, and produces a highly atypical piece of theater that interweaves parodic spoken dialogue with orchestral and vocal music of incredible refinement. Like in Shakespeare’s play, the plot revolves around two young people whose razor-sharp wits and natural cynicism prevent them from accepting an essential truth: that they are in love with each other.
Photo: © Richard Hubert Smith