Director brings his baroque vision back to the hallowed stage of the ENO
Much as this journal had its fair share of quibbles with Terry Gilliam’s latest film The Zero Theorem, we still love and respect the guy and have every faith there’s oodles of creativity left in his tank – as the remainder of this year will no doubt go to show. Not content with circling the runway of another shot at his Don Quixote film and getting back with the Python gang, bank-raid style, for one last job, el Tel will also be laying on his second production for the English National Opera: Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.
Those who are familiar with the often polarising nature of Gilliam’s films would be gladdened to know that his latest choice of ENO subject matter is distilled from the very flesh of controversy. An 1830s work that started life as a kind of opera/comedy hybrid with spoken-word interludes, this bizarre tale of a renowned sculptor’s thwarted love life was initially considered too challenging in that schizophrenic form. However, subsequent refinements failed to soften the blow: early audiences of the pure-play opera version descended into violence under its cacophonous force, and even the musicians who performed it claimed it was too difficult and awkward to play.
Gilliam’s first ENO production – his award-winning take on The Damnation of Faust (another Berlioz epic) – was one of the hottest tickets of 2011, and continued to make waves the following year with a brief foray overseas. Critics and audiences alike lapped up the opera’s outrageous spectacle, and Gilliam’s venture into new artistic turf was hailed a resounding success. This year, the ENO has anticipated demand for another dose of the director’s baroque vision by teaming up with cinema chains for a global simulcast of Benvenuto Cellini on 17 June.
Rhythm Circus advises those who are now frothing at the mouth to check, double-check and triple-check their local cinema listings in the run up to the mass screening, so you can get your tickets in the bag.
For further details about the opera and more on the ENO’s big-screen activities, head right this way. But before that, how about letting Gilliam himself twist your arm?
Words> Matt Packer