2019 Autumn Concerts: Béatrice et Bénédict by Berlioz

Saturday 5th October 2019, 7.30pm – Holy Cross and St Mary Church, Quainton
Saturday 12th October 2019, 7.30pm – St Mary’s Church, Princes Risborough

Aylesbury Opera presents this sublime comedy in concert version, led from the piano by Kelvin Lim. We will sing in French with a narration in English replacing the spoken dialogue.  The performances will include an interval and end at about 9.30pm. We will perform in French, with a narrative in English replacing the spoken dialogue.

Tickets £12 (children free). Available on the door or in advance:

The Opera

“A caprice written with the point of a needle,” was how Berlioz described Béatrice et Bénédict, his last opera, and his final expression of his lifelong love of Shakespeare.  Written in 1862, when he was already very ill and increasingly at odds with the European musical establishment, it’s a beautiful, ambivalent work that takes Much Ado About Nothing as the starting point for a meditation on youthful idealism and musical uncertainty.

The Story

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 manage to ignore…

The Music

The quality of the libretto, which Berlioz adapted from Shakespeare himself, has often been questioned – we’re replacing it with a narration in English!  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 described by W.J. Turner as “a marvel of indescribable lyrical beauty”.