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John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique Tour Benvenuto Cellini to France’s Festival Berlioz and Palace of Versailles, Berlin’s Festspiele, and London’s BBC Proms, Honoring 150th Anniversary of Berlioz’s Death (Aug 29–Sep 8)

This year marks both the 150th anniversary of Hector Berlioz’s death and the 30th anniversary of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR). To honor these twin milestones, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Monteverdi Choir, and John Eliot Gardiner give staged performances of the French composer’s first opera, Benvenuto Cellini, on a high-profile European tour this summer. Representing the work’s first modern performances on period instruments, the tour kicks off at the annual Festival Berlioz in the composer’s birthplace, La Côte-Saint-André (Aug 29), before taking Gardiner and the ensembles to the Berliner Festspiele (Aug 31), London’s BBC Proms (Sep 2), and the Palace of Versailles (Sep 8). Featuring tenor Michael Spyres in the title role, it provides a fitting sequel to the ensembles’ transatlantic “Berlioz Series 2018” tour, which prompted the Financial Times to conclude: “Berlioz has no idea what he missed.”

Rarely performed today, Benvenuto Cellini (1838) is the story of a maverick Florentine sculptor and goldsmith whose lust for life repeatedly gets him into trouble. Its score exists in three main versions, and John Eliot Gardiner – the winner of more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist – has incorporated selections from all three. With movement direction by Noa Naamat, the stage director of Covent Garden’s young artist program, and costume and lighting design by Sarah Denise Cordery and Rick Fisher respectively, the upcoming tour production features an impressive international roster of soloists. American tenor Michael Spyres – “a tenor who has the world at his feet” (Opera magazine) – undertakes the title role, opposite Puerto Rican-American soprano Sophia Burgos – a “rising star” (The Times of London) – as Teresa. Critics Circle Award-winning English bass Matthew Rose sings the role of her father, Balducci, with Belgian baritone Lionel Lhote, also appearing this summer at Glyndebourne, as her fiancé, Fieramosca. German-Egyptian bass Tareq Nazmi lends his “sympathetic charisma and profound bass” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) to the role of the Pope, and French mezzo-soprano Adèle Charvet, winner of the Verbier Festival’s Yves Paternot Award, portrays Cellini’s apprentice Ascanio. Polish tenor Krystian Adam – a “real star” (New York Times) – and British bass-baritone Ashley Riches – “one of today’s finest young singers” (The Guardian) – round out the cast as artisans Francisco and Bernardino.

Spyres and Riches were among the vocal soloists who took part in last year’s “Berlioz Series 2018,” which took the ORR and Gardiner to New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s BBC Proms, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, and six more key U.S. and European destinations. The critical response was euphoric. The London performance scored five-star reviews in The Times, the Arts Desk, and the Financial Times; the Amsterdam one was “a true triumph” (Opera Click); and after the New York concerts, the New York Times observed: “The boldness of the music was matched by the performers. At 75, Mr. Gardiner is relentlessly inventive and risk-seeking.

About the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras (MCO)

The three ensembles that make up MCO – the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique – are a leading force on the international music scene. Comprising world-class instrumentalists and singers of many different nationalities, they help realize the distinctive vision of their Founder and Artistic Director, John Eliot Gardiner, in groundbreaking projects spanning eight centuries of musical masterpieces. The Monteverdi Choir was founded in 1964 to bring fresh drama and immediacy to the choral repertoire. Performing on period instruments, the English Baroque Soloists specialize in Baroque and early Classical music, while the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique focuses on music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for their expressive intensity, consummate technique, and historically informed performances, all three ensembles share an instantly recognizable core sound. Their 150-plus recordings have been honored with numerous prizes, including two Grammys and 14 Gramophone Awards.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Monteverdi Choir, and John Eliot Gardiner
Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini

Cellini: Michael Spyres, tenor
Teresa: Sophia Burgos, soprano
Balducci: Matthew Rose, bass
Fieramosca: Lionel Lhote, baritone
Pope: Tareq Nazmi, bass
Ascanio: Adèle Charvet, mezzo-soprano
Francesco: Krystian Adam, tenor
Bernardino: Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Perseus: Duncan Meadows

Creative team:
Movement director: Noa Naamat
Costume designer: Sarah Denise Cordery
Lighting designer: Rick Fisher

Aug 29
La Côte-Saint-André, France
Festival Berlioz 

Aug 31
Berlin, Germany
Berliner Festspiele

Sep 2
London, UK
BBC Proms
Royal Albert Hall

Sep 8
Versailles, France
Opéra Royal, Palace of Versailles

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© 21C Media Group, July 2019

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