Maxence Dedry

Opera - Concerts and Recitals

Béatrice et Bénédict

Hector Berlioz - concert

Palais Garnier

on 24 March 2017 at 7:30 pm

2h20 with 1 interval

Béatrice et Bénédict

Palais Garnier - on 24 March 2017 at 7:30 pm

Synopsis

"Since it’s obv ious we’re going to hate each other, let’s get married!"

Béatrice et Bénédict, Acte II, scène 6


From bickering and disputes to wars of words and fleeting glances, Béatrice and Bénédict can hardly bear each other’s presence and yet both constantly seek ways to be together. With two strong temperaments, as irritating as they are endearing, theirs is a passion that arouses the doubts of those who by stratagem reveal a love that only the protagonists managed to ignore… The quality of the libretto, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has often been questioned, but the work’s magnificent duets and trios have always been held in high regard. Carried along in a maelstrom of laughter, joy, bad faith, deferred confessions, concealed kindness and false indifference, the opera overflows with musical summits, the epitome of which is the scintillating Nocturne at the end of Act I – a slow duet of pure poetry in which Ursule and Héro express their unfathomable love for nature.

Duration : 2h20 with 1 interval

Artists

Opera in two acts (1862)

After William Shakespeare
In French

Creative team

Cast

Orchestre et Chœurs de l’Opéra national de Paris

French and English surtitles

Media

  • Schönberg, Verdi, Wagner and Berlioz: the commitment to cycles

    Schönberg, Verdi, Wagner and Berlioz: the commitment to cycles

    Read the article

  • Podcast Béatrice et Bénédict

    Podcast Béatrice et Bénédict

    Listen the podcast

  • Did Berlioz betray Shakespeare?

    Did Berlioz betray Shakespeare?

    Read the article

© Bernd Uhlig

Schönberg, Verdi, Wagner and Berlioz: the commitment to cycles

Read the article

A fresh look at season 15/16

05 min

Schönberg, Verdi, Wagner and Berlioz: the commitment to cycles

By Octave

During the summer break, we offer our readers a retrospective glaze on Stéphane Lissner’s first season at the Paris Opera. The rhythm of season 15/16 was marked by recurring “rendez-vous” with composers whose work, essential or enigmatic, appeals to invention and discovery. Between revivals of timeless productions and creations, these diverse companionships set the tone for an eclectic operatic season, revealing the inexhaustible quality of the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus.


"Dare!"

Indeed, inaugurating season 15/16 with a symphonic concert of works by Arnold Schönberg took audacity, furthermore in uncharted territory. The Paris Opera Orchestra invested the Philharmonie de Paris for the first time with the Variations for orchestra, op.31, a major modern piece, inaugurating a cycle dedicated to the Austrian composer. Philippe Jordan carried out the audacious project of making Schönberg’s work better known in its diversity through a series of concerts and recitals which was followed by Pierrot Lunaire and the String Quartet, op.10 a reflection of his shift from late romanticism to atonality – and the Gürre Lieder. The climax of this commitment was undoubtedly the mobilization of all the vital forces of the Paris Opera in the service of Moses und Aron, Schönberg’s unfinished philosophical opera, reputed for its reluctance to the stage. “There is something deeply theatrical and human in this work that must be recognized” insists Philippe Jordan in an interview. The task had been handed to the most plastic of today’s stage directors, Romeo Castellucci. The result was a striking journey through contradictory signs, trails of tainting speech and haunting images, succeeding in making Schönberg our contemporary. To complete the cycle, the composer’s early style of feverous romanticism found a perfect embodiment with the Paris Opera Ballet dancers in Verklärte Nacht choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. The choreographer will renew her collaboration with the Paris Opera by stage directing Così fan tutte, which will inaugurate a Da Ponte trilogy.    
"La Nuit transfigurée" d'Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker © Agathe Poupeney

"Vibrate!"

As for Moses und Aron, season 15/16 was marked by the return to grace of works rarely – or never – given on the Paris Opera’s stages so that some shows were practically must-see events. Last March, a new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which hadn’t been performed for over a quarter of a century, thrilled the audience. Philippe Jordan teamed up again with stage director Stefan Herheim to offer five hours of musical and scenic jubilation. Through Hans Sachs’ character, Wagner reflects on the artist’ status and design a self-portrait to a comical effect. The Wagnerian cycle will pursue with a concert of excerpts from the Tetralogy and Lohengrin directed by Claus Guth with Jonas Kaufmann singing the title-role. Faithful to the Paris Opera, the German tenor lent his voice to Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust which inaugurated a cycle dedicated to the composer. This complex “dramatic legend” displays the forward-thinking talent of a visionary composer and the audience will have the possibility to discover the musical richness of his works with Béatrice et Bénédict in concert version.
Sophie Koch, Jonas Kaufmann
Sophie Koch, Jonas Kaufmann © Élena Bauer / OnP

"Desire!"

Through cycles, one is amazed at the variety of artistic worlds that can spring from the work of one composer. The cycle dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi displayed with flying colors the repertoire’s vitality. This season, two internationally acclaimed stage directors made their Paris Opera debuts taking over operas by Verdi. Spanish stage director Alex Ollé, from la Fura dels Baus, addressed the issue of aggravating social tensions during war time in a First World War set Trovatore. German stage director Claus Guth, for his part, created a melancholic cabaret in a cart wood box from the material of Rigoletto’s fantasies and regrets. Verdi’s “popular trilogy” was completed with a revival of Benoît Jacquot’s production of La Traviata; the French director paying tribute to the sulfurous 19th century heroine with the elegance for which he’s known. The Verdi cycle above all gives time and space to appreciate opera singing. One was able to hear and see the greatest singers in the world perform on the Paris Opera stages: Anna Netrebko, Marcelo Àlvarez, Sonya Yoncheva, and Bryan Hymel… To end the season, like a cherry on the cake, Aida displayed one of the most brilliant vocal casts of the year: with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title-role alongside Alexandrs Antonenko and the revelation Anita Rachvelishvili. The Georgian mezzo-soprano will be back next season in Samson et Dalila and Carmen, the role that earned her international fame; so that we almost wish the end of summer were tomorrow!    
Anita Rachvelishvili
Anita Rachvelishvili © Salvatore Sportato

Podcast Béatrice et Bénédict

Listen the podcast

"Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" - by France Musique

07 min

Podcast Béatrice et Bénédict

By Judith Chaine, France Musique

  • In partnership with France Musique

    Read more

" Dance! Sing! 7 minutes at the Paris Opera" offers original incursions into the season thanks to broadcasts produced by France Musique and the Paris Opera. For each opera or ballet production, Judith Chaine (opera) and Stéphane Grant (dance), present the works and artists you are going to discover when you attend performances in our theatres.    

© Pauline Andrieu / OnP

Did Berlioz betray Shakespeare?

Read the article

On the subject of "Beatrice and Benedict"

05 min

Did Berlioz betray Shakespeare?

By Emmanuel Reibel, Pauline Andrieu (Illustration)

Berlioz has never ceased to crystallise the passions of his critics and to arouse their incomprehension. Besides the accusations of eccentricity or incompetence that have been levelled at him, the author of Beatrice and Benedict stands accused of having betrayed Shakespeare. Numerous articles contribute to the case against him, like that by Jean-Michel Brèque published in 2003 in the journal L’Avant-Scène Opéra: “Shakespeare travesti, ou les manquements d’un fidèle à son Dieu” [Shakespeare travestied, or a believer’s shortcomings towards his God].


Travestied? It suffices to read Much Ado about Nothing to be struck by the distance between the theatrical model and Berlioz’s operatic adaptation of it. Admittedly, the constraints of opera always require simplifications of the plot and greater focus on situations allowing the vocal heightening of drama and passion, but Béatrice et Bénédict treats Shakespeare’s comedy in a well and truly cavalier fashion. The mainspring of Berlioz’s scenario, the sentimental intrigue between Beatrice and Benedict, two young people who pretend to loathe each other and vie with each other for irony in their condemnation of marriage, is only present in Shakespeare as a subplot. This results in the eclipsing of Claudio and Hero, Shakespeare’s principal lovers, and of all the melodramatic elements that jeopardised their union and threaten to plunge the story into tragedy. Berlioz relegated whatever remained of the action to spoken dialogue whilst the musical numbers – ultimately the most important things – are more like independent poetic tableaux. The famous nocturne, the duo that closes the first act, interweaves two female voices in a hymn in praise of happiness and the night: completely extraneous to the action, this musical highlight is as remote from the Shakespearean universe as it is from the conventions pertaining to the final act of a comic opera, which would normally bring together all the protagonists and heighten the dramatic tension.

Betrayal? Of all the Romantics who adulated Shakespeare, Berlioz was one of the most fanatical. “Shakespeare, falling into my lap unexpectedly, hit me like a thunderbolt”, he wrote in his Mémoires. The man who identified himself with Romeo and Hamlet united himself quite literally to Juliet and Ophelia in marrying the English actress Harriet Smithson. His letters are punctuated with passionate declarations (“Shakespeare! Our Father, which art in Heaven, if there is a heaven!); in the musical monologue Lélio, his fictional double exclaims: “Shakespeare brought about a revolution within me that has shaken my entire being!”

Berlioz was therefore too obsessed by his God to have been unfaithful to him. It is just that, for him, Shakespearean theatre was not a temple to be honoured in a patrimonial sense, that is, sanctified or put on a pedestal. Berlioz was an iconoclast in the most etymologically precise sense of the term in that he cast down the statue from its pedestal: Shakespeare was not to be idolised but was to remain a living model. For Berlioz, as for Victor Hugo, the Shakespearean model is one of artistic freedom par excellence; literary freedom to mix dramatic genres, to mistreat the alexandrine, to defy the sacrosanct rules of unity; musical freedom to shake up harmonic conventions, to emancipate the orchestra, to replace the current theatrical usages with the insolent freedom of the theatre he dreamed of.

From this point of view, Béatrice and Bénédict marks the end of a career in the course of which Berlioz never took up a literary text without looking at it through the prism of his own creative imagination. He had already had the audacity to send his Faust on a journey to Hungary, with no concern as to what Goethe might have thought of such an act of high treason, but quite simply because he “wanted to include a piece of instrumental music with a Hungarian theme”! Similarly, he “pillaged Virgil and Shakespeare” to write The Trojans in 1861, daring to produce an iconoclastic hybrid of the Latin epic and the Elizabethan drama, a “pillage” that hoisted him up to the ranks of the sublime brigands so idealised by Romanticism.

Now, in writing Beatrice and Benedict, Berlioz committed a similar act of piracy: “I only took one aspect of the play,” he admitted very candidly. “All the rest is of my own invention.” This invention led him, as it happened, to weave in with the Shakespearean thread an autonomous strand of musical grotesquery (in the character of Somarone) and a thread, just as foreign to Shakespeare, of intimate lyricism (in the female characters). Thus, Berlioz did not so much seek to produce a musical narration of a veritable theatrical plot as to place Shakespeare’s theatre at the service of his own musical imagination: a break with all the customs of the time and with the expectations of some of today’s audiences. Such a liberty, as insolent as it was experimental, was without doubt the highest tribute that Berlioz could have paid to Shakespeare.

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Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

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Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

Palais Garnier

Place de l'Opéra

75009 Paris

Public transport

Underground Opéra (lignes 3, 7 et 8), Chaussée d’Antin (lignes 7 et 9), Madeleine (lignes 8 et 14), Auber (RER A)

Bus 20, 21, 27, 29, 32, 45, 52, 66, 68, 95, N15, N16

Calculate my route
Car park

Q-Park Edouard VII16 16, rue Bruno Coquatrix 75009 Paris

Book your parking spot

At the Palais Garnier, buy €10 tickets for seats in the 6th category (very limited visibility, two tickets maximum per person) on the day of the performance at the Box offices.

In both our venues, discounted tickets are sold at the box offices from 30 minutes before the show:

  • €35 tickets for under-28s, unemployed people (with documentary proof less than 3 months old) and senior citizens over 65 with non-taxable income (proof of tax exemption for the current year required)
  • €70 tickets for senior citizens over 65

Get samples of the operas and ballets at the Paris Opera gift shops: programmes, books, recordings, and also stationery, jewellery, shirts, homeware and honey from Paris Opera.

Palais Garnier
  • Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and until performances end
  • Get in from Place de l’Opéra or from within the theatre’s public areas
  • For more information: +33 1 53 43 03 97

Partners

  • With the support of the Cercle Berlioz

  • Mr Pierre Bergé † Sponsor of the Paris Opera Orchestra's Symphony Concerts

  • With the support of AROP

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