Beatrice and Benedick by Hector Berlioz

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Hector Berlioz was born on the 11th December 1803 in La Cote-St.-Andre and died on the 8th March 1869 in Paris. In his lifetime, he produced a number of spectacular operas. But despite his success, he remained an outsider to those in the music business and his bold innovations were sadly only recognised after his death.

An ‘opera comique’ in two acts, the libretto was produced by Hector Berlioz which was based on William Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing. It premiered on the 9th August 1862 in Baden-Baden at the Neues Theatre. It is set in 16th century Messina.

Characters:

Beatrice (Soprano)

Benedict, a Sicilian officer (Tenor)

Hero, Beatrice’s cousin (Soprano)

Claudio, the lover of Hero (Baritone)

Leonato, the governor of Messino and Hero’s father (Spoken)

Don Pedro, a general in the Sicilian army (Bass)

Urule, Hero’s attendant (Mezzo-Soprano)

Somarone, the choirmaster (Bass)
A Messenger, A Lawyer, Two Servants (Spoken)

Musicians, singers, people of Sicily, the governor’s retinue (the chorus).

Synopsis:

Act I

Scene 1: The people are waiting for the return of Don Pedro and his victorious army and Hero is waiting for Claudio in order to marry him. Beatrice, however, is waiting for Benedick to argue with him. Don Pedro and Claudio hope to convince Benedick to marry but it is ijn vain.

Scene 2: The choirmaster Somarone likes the idea of weddings so that he can show off his abilities and practices a wedding composition.

Scene 3: Claudio, Don Pedro and Leonato try to convince Benedick that Beatrice loves him which awaken Benedick’s feelings for her.

Scene 4: The bride Hero has done the same to Beatrice and is happy at her upcoming marriage.

Act II

Scene 1: Somarone improvises a drinking song before the wedding. However, it is as bad as the wedding song.

Scene 2: Beatrice is moved at the news that Benedick loves her and realises that she kept her love for him hidden when he went off to war. With great envy, she watches Hero marry her husband. Beatrice and Benedick argue again as the celebrations commence, but they notice the love in each other’s words. Hero and Claudio sign the marriage contract and Beatrice and Benedick join them now they realise they are in love with each other.

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