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Benvenuto Cellini Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

This show was to been seen in May 2015

Above all, Art

Duration 3:30

Breaks 1

By Hector Berlioz

Language French

Surtitles English & Dutch

Dutch National Opera presents Berlioz’ first opera in a staging by the renowned actor, director and cineaste Terry Gilliam. Benvenuto Cellini is a co-production with English National Opera, London and Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

In short

With his first opera, the French composer Hector Berlioz went directly for the grand gesture. Having read the memoires of the sixteenth-century goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini, he identified with this advocate of personal freedom and the independence of art.

  • © English National Opera
  • © English National Opera
  • © English National Opera
  • Background

    Grand spectacle
    The plot focuses on the completion of a bronze statue of Perseus commissioned by Pope Clement VII. Fieramosca, Cellini’s rival, misses no opportunity to frustrate the sculptor’s plans. Berlioz makes a grand spectacle of the Roman carnival, where in the pantomime everyone can dress up as he wishes. Cellini manages to finish the statue by Ash Wednesday, despite Fieramosca’s efforts to sabotage him. Not only the artist triumphs, but the man as well: now that Cellini has completed his commission he may marry his beloved Teresa. Benvenuto Cellini is pithy work, combining love, excitement, manslaughter and the threat of the gallows with comical situations en high jinks.

    Terry Gilliam


    TERRY GILLIAM (director and set designs) first appeared on the scene in 1969 as a member of the TV programme Monty Python's Flying Circus. In 1975, he co-directed his first film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was followed by his solo directing debut, Jabberwocky.

    Sir Mark Elder


    SIR MARK ELDER (musical director) is Director of Music with the Hallé Orchestra, Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Artistic Director of Opera Rara. He has made regular appearances at prominent international opera houses like Covent Garden, Metropolitan Opera, Opéra National de Paris and Lyric Opera of Chicago and at the Glyndebourne and Bayreuth festivals.


    Dutch National Opera looks forward to the return of conductor Sir Mark Elder (previously in Amsterdam for Pelléas et Mélisande) and the Dutch National Opera directing debut of Terry Gilliam. In the title role, which demands a brilliant high tenor, is John Osborne, who impressed Amsterdam audiences as Lord Arturo Talbo in I puritani, Léopold in La Juive and, most recently, Arnold Melcthal in Guillaume Tell.

    Terry Gilliam
    Terry Gilliam is universally known from Monty Python’s Flying Circus and films such as The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life and Brazil. Gilliam made his successful opera directing debut in 2011 with another work by Berlioz, La damnation de Faust. That production was first staged by English National Opera and later by Flanders Opera.

    Team, Cast and Chorus

    Musical Director 
    Sir Mark Elder
    Stage Director 
    Terry Gilliam
    Co-director & Choreography 
    Leah Hausman
    Stage design 
    Terry Gilliam and Aaron Marsden
    Costume design 
    Katrina Lindsay
    Lighting design 
    Paule Constable
    Finn Ross
    Chorus of Dutch National Opera
    Benvenuto Cellini 
    John Osborn
    Giacomo Balducci 
    Maurizio Muraro
    Laurent Naouri
    Le Pape Clement VII 
    Orlin Anastassov
    Nicky Spence
    Scott Conner
    André Morsch
    Le Cabaretier 
    Marcel Beekman
    Mariangela Sicilia
    Michèle Losier


    Rich colours and large-scale choral scenes
    Berlioz composed the large-scale choral scenes Parisian audiences had grown accustomed to in grand opéra; the orchestral scoring is likewise rich in colour. In his first version, the connecting texts were spoken, as in opéra comique, but before its premiere  Berlioz changed them to recitatives. The overture is a favourite concert piece.


    Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

    Following Death in Venice and Faust the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra will return for Benvenuto Cellini in 2015. The Rotterdam Philharmonic, one of the world’s top symphony orchestras since its inception in 1918, is known for the intensity of its concerts, its colourful sound and its daring and innovative audience approach.


    Every performance of National Opera & Ballet is preceded by an introductory talk. Learn more, enjoy more. The introduction begins 45 minutes before curtain and is held in the foyer of the second balcony. The introduction is free of charge to everyone attending the performance, and amplification is used to enhance audibility. Several days prior to the premiere, the introduction will be made available digitally as a podcast. Check this page to see if the podcast has already been made available.

      Sun 16 Feb The Opera Critic over La damnation de Faust (ENO), 2011

      ‘Terry Gilliam’s debut opera is a dazzling, surprisingly purposeful affair.’