Béatrice et Bénédict (Vocal Score)
Berlioz Béatrice et Bénédict (Vocal Score)
On 21 November 1860 Berlioz wrote to his son: “The music for my little opera comes to me so quickly I can hardly keep pace; each piece wants to jump ahead of the previous one. Sometimes I begin one before the last is finished. You ask me how I have reduced Shakespeare’s five acts to a one-act opéra-comique. I have taken only one theme from the play; the rest is my own invention. It’s a matter quite simply of persuading Béatrice and Bénédict (who detest each other) that they are each in love with each other and of inspiring true love between them. It is an excellent comedy, you will see".
By November 1861 he had decided to divide the opera into two acts and the first performances took place in 1862 in Baden-Baden. Around this time Berlioz wrote letters to Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein which deserve to be cited: “The musical ideas came to me one after another, but with long gaps always caused by my infernal neuralgia. These periods of enforced inactivity were so frequent and so long that when rehearsals began I felt I was making the acquaintance of my own music of which I no longer had any memory. It has come off well, and my two heroes Béatrice and Bénédict seem to mock and rail at each other with style. Then there is the sentimental pair, Héro and Claudio, who contrast most happily with the first pair."
The second letter was written after the first performance: “This little work is much harder to perform than Les Troyens because it has humour.” In the Postface of his Mémoires he wrote: “The work is difficult to perform well, the men’s roles especially. To my mind it is one of the liveliest and most original things I have done.”
- Urtext of the New Berlioz Edition
- Full score (BA5443) and vocal score (BA5443-90) available for sale
- Performance material (BA5443-72) available for hire