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John Nelson - Hector Berlioz : Béatrice et Bénédict

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Hector Berlioz : Béatrice et Bénédict

Susan Graham - Jean-Luc Viala - Sylvia McNair - Gabriel Bacquier - Vincent le Texier... - Chœur & Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon - John Nelson

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Langue disponible : anglais

Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz's last completed work, is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but the libretto, by the composer, dispenses with most of the intrigue of the original and reduces the plot to a single premise: Béatrice et Bénédict mask their affection for each other by squabbling, and then finally come to their senses and get married. Although designated an opera, it is closer in effect to an opéra comique because of its very extensive use of spoken dialogue. The effectiveness of a recording of an opera with this amount of dialogue depends at least in part on the persuasiveness of the spoken drama, and on that count this version is largely successful because it uses professional actors. They make the comedy plausibly fun, so that the listener is fully engaged, not just waiting around impatiently for the music to start up again. A great amount of attention has been given to production values, with impressive sound effects and realistic spatial blocking. The vocal performances are for the most part well taken, but the women outshine the men. Soprano Sylvia McNair in the relatively small role of Héro practically steals the show. Her aria, "Je vais le voir," is the undisputed highlight of the album because of the music -- this is Berlioz at his most melodically eccentric, most deeply felt, and most inspired -- and because of McNair's radiant, soaring performance. A close runner-up is the gorgeous, graceful women's trio, "Je vais d'un coeur aimant être la joie et le bonheur suprême," with McNair, Susan Graham as Béatrice, and Catherine Robbin as Ursule, Héro's lady-in-waiting. The rhapsodic duet with McNair and Robbin, "Nuit paisible et sereine!" also deserves mention, as does Béatrice's aria, "Dieu! que viens-je d'entendre?"; Berlioz's writing for women in this opera is consistently spectacular. In the opera's leading role, Graham sings with warmth and smooth lyricism, but because of the fragmented nature of the opera, it's difficult for her, or almost any other cast member, for that matter, to establish much of a sense of dramatic momentum. An exception is baritone Gabriel Bacquier as Somarone, a comic character invented by Berlioz to lampoon the pomposity of the composer Spontini. Bacquier is in excellent vocal form and he is a natural comedian, and he alone performs the spoken dialogue as well as singing. The remaining singers, Jean-Luc Viala as Bénédict, Vincent le Texier as Don Pedro, and Gilles Cachemaille as Claudio, are adequate at best. John Nelson, leading the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra de Lyon, delivers an exceptionally polished performance and keeps things moving at a vivacious clip. The sound of the 1991 recording is disappointingly one-dimensional (except, paradoxically, for the sections featuring the actors), dull, and sometimes distant.

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Hector Berlioz : Béatrice et Bénédict

John Nelson

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1
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138: Overture 00:07:51

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

2
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Le More est en fuite" (Chorus) 00:01:58

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

3
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Enfin cette guerre est terminée ... Monseigneur, je vous annonce l'arrivée du général" (Léonato, Héro, Béatrice, Un messager) 00:02:41

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bardy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

4
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Le More est en fuite ... Ne l'écoutez pas" (Chorus, Béatrice, Héro) 00:01:17

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

5
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: Sicilienne 00:01:38

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

6
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Je vais le voir" (Héro) 00:08:12

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Sylvia McNair, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

7
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Recevez mes félicitations, général !" (Léonato, Don Pedro, Bénédict, Claudio, Héro, Béatrice) 00:00:51

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Enrico Di Giovanni, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

8
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Comment le dédain pourrait-il mourir ?" (Béatrice, Bénédict) 00:06:55

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Susan Graham, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

9
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Ma fille, suivez-moi ... Bénédict, ne partez pas" (Léonato, Héro, Don Pedro, Claudio, Bénédict) 00:00:51

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Enrico Di Giovanni, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

10
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Me marier ? Dieu me pardonne !" (Bénédict, Claudio, Don Pedro) 00:06:16

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - Gilles Cachemaille, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Vincent le Texier, Bass Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

11
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Je vous quitte, messieurs, vous me convertiriez ... Allons, chacun de vous doit maintenant savoir sa partie" (Don Pedro, Claudio, Somarone, musiciens) 00:02:21

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Enrico Di Giovanni, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

12
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Mourez, tendres époux" (Chorus, Somarone) 00:02:24

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

13
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Ah ! mon Dieu ! vous me beuglez cet épithalame ... Je ne conçois pas qu'un homme ... Ah ! voici le général" (Somarone, Bénédict, Don Pedro) 00:02:53

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

14
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Mourez, tendres époux" (Bis) [Chorus, Somarone] 00:02:23

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

15
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Comment ? mourez ? ... Eh bien, Léonato ... Non, il faut que le monde soit peuplé" (Don Pedro, Somarone, Claudio, Léonato, Bénédict) 00:06:25

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Enrico Di Giovanni, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

16
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Ah ! Je vais l'aimer" (Bénédict) 00:02:28

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

17
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Voici la belle Héro ... Je sais bien bon gré à mon père" (Bénédict, Héro, Ursule) 00:01:46

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Sophie Niedergang, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

18
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: "Vous soupirez, Madame ?" (Ursule, Héro) 00:09:56

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Catherine Robbin, Mezzo-soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Sylvia McNair, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

19
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 1: Entracte - Sicilienne 00:01:46

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

20
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Du vin ! du vin !" (Chorus) 00:01:21

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

21
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Le vin de Syracuse" (Somarone, Chorus) 00:04:30

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

22
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Dieu ! Que viens-je d'entendre ?" (Béatrice) 00:09:47

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Susan Graham, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

23
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Qu'as-tu donc, Béatrice ?" (Héro, Béatrice, Ursule) 00:00:43

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Sophie Niedergang, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

24
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Je vais d'un coeur aimant" (Héro, Béatrice, Ursule) 00:09:28

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Susan Graham, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Catherine Robbin, Mezzo-soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Sylvia McNair, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

25
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "On nous attend, chère Ursule" (Héro) 00:00:14

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

26
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Viens ! Viens, de l'hyménée" (Chorus) 00:02:44

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

27
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Ciel ! ... Restez, ma chère nièce !" (Béatrice, Bénédict, Léonato) 00:02:31

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

28
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Dieu qui guida nos bras pour chasser l'infidèle" (Béatrice, Bénédict, Héro, Ursule, Claudio, Somarone, Don Pedro, Léonato, Chorus) 00:03:45

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - Gilles Cachemaille, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Vincent le Texier, Bass Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Susan Graham, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Gabriel Bacquier, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Catherine Robbin, Mezzo-soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Sylvia McNair, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus - Philippe Magnant, Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

29
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Tout est-il prêt ?" (Léonato, Tabellion, Don Pedro, Bénédict, Béatrice, Claudio, Héro, Chorus) 00:02:49

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, MainArtist - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus - Enrico Di Giovanni, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Henri Ambert, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Paul Racodon, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Laurence Roy, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Magnant, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Valérie Jeannet, Actor, FeaturedArtist - Philippe Bertin, Actor, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

30
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "Ici l'on voit Bénédict l'homme marié" (Héro, Ursule, Claudio, Don Pedro, Bénédict, Chorus) 00:00:52

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - Gilles Cachemaille, Baritone Vocals, FeaturedArtist - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Vincent le Texier, Bass Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Catherine Robbin, Mezzo-soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Sylvia McNair, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Choeurs de l'Opera de Lyon, Chorus

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

31
Béatrice et Bénédict, H. 138, Act 2: "L'amour est un flambeau" (Béatrice, Bénédict) 00:01:58

Hector Berlioz, Composer, Poet - John Nelson, Conductor, MainArtist - Susan Graham, Soprano Vocals, FeaturedArtist - Orchestre de l'Opéra de Lyon, Orchestra - Jean-Luc Viala, Tenor Vocals, FeaturedArtist

2011 Warner Classics & Jazz, Warner Music UK Ltd 1992 Erato Disques, a Warner Music UK Division

Descriptif de l'album

Béatrice et Bénédict, Berlioz's last completed work, is based on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but the libretto, by the composer, dispenses with most of the intrigue of the original and reduces the plot to a single premise: Béatrice et Bénédict mask their affection for each other by squabbling, and then finally come to their senses and get married. Although designated an opera, it is closer in effect to an opéra comique because of its very extensive use of spoken dialogue. The effectiveness of a recording of an opera with this amount of dialogue depends at least in part on the persuasiveness of the spoken drama, and on that count this version is largely successful because it uses professional actors. They make the comedy plausibly fun, so that the listener is fully engaged, not just waiting around impatiently for the music to start up again. A great amount of attention has been given to production values, with impressive sound effects and realistic spatial blocking. The vocal performances are for the most part well taken, but the women outshine the men. Soprano Sylvia McNair in the relatively small role of Héro practically steals the show. Her aria, "Je vais le voir," is the undisputed highlight of the album because of the music -- this is Berlioz at his most melodically eccentric, most deeply felt, and most inspired -- and because of McNair's radiant, soaring performance. A close runner-up is the gorgeous, graceful women's trio, "Je vais d'un coeur aimant être la joie et le bonheur suprême," with McNair, Susan Graham as Béatrice, and Catherine Robbin as Ursule, Héro's lady-in-waiting. The rhapsodic duet with McNair and Robbin, "Nuit paisible et sereine!" also deserves mention, as does Béatrice's aria, "Dieu! que viens-je d'entendre?"; Berlioz's writing for women in this opera is consistently spectacular. In the opera's leading role, Graham sings with warmth and smooth lyricism, but because of the fragmented nature of the opera, it's difficult for her, or almost any other cast member, for that matter, to establish much of a sense of dramatic momentum. An exception is baritone Gabriel Bacquier as Somarone, a comic character invented by Berlioz to lampoon the pomposity of the composer Spontini. Bacquier is in excellent vocal form and he is a natural comedian, and he alone performs the spoken dialogue as well as singing. The remaining singers, Jean-Luc Viala as Bénédict, Vincent le Texier as Don Pedro, and Gilles Cachemaille as Claudio, are adequate at best. John Nelson, leading the Orchestra and Chorus of l'Opéra de Lyon, delivers an exceptionally polished performance and keeps things moving at a vivacious clip. The sound of the 1991 recording is disappointingly one-dimensional (except, paradoxically, for the sections featuring the actors), dull, and sometimes distant.

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