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New Recording: Boulevard des Italiens


Benjamin Bernheim’s second solo album for Deutsche Grammophon turns the spotlight on a century of Italian opera in Paris. The tenor presents a carefully curated selection of rarities and favourite excerpts by Cherubini, Spontini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and Mascagni –all performed in French. Recorded with Frédéric Chaslin and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna “With a French singer and conductor and an Italian orchestra we show how two worlds come together in style –Italian music and the French language!”
Boulevard des Italiens will be released by Deutsche Grammophon on April 8th, 2022.
Documenting more than a hundred years of Italian operatic music in France, Benjamin Bernheim’s new album Boulevard des Italiens will be released on Deutsche Grammophon on April 8th, 2022. Music stretching from Spontini’s La Vestale to Mascagni’s Amica–all sung in French –receives gold-star treatment from Bernheim, a tenor ideally placed to sing this repertoire in his native language. As he explains,
“The aim was really to show the history of the French language in opera houses inParis by way of these Italian composers who brought their pieces there. With the Opéra Garnier at one end, and the Opéra-Comique at the other, the Boulevard des Italiens is where it all happened.”
Throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, Paris was the operatic capital of Europe. From Cherubini to Mascagni, Italian composers in particular were drawn to the city with its cosmopolitan outlook and opera-loving audiences. This resulted in an exciting and productive mutual exchange between the French and Italian theatrical traditions. Almost without exception, works were staged in French, whatever their country of origin, and in adapting their music to work with the sonorities of the French language, Italian composers rose to new levels of melodic creativity.
On Boulevard des Italiens, Bernheim performs a representative selection of their operatic calling cards, having turned to the Venice-based Palazzetto Bru Zane –Centre de musique romantique française for advice on repertoire. As he explains, in addition to giving inspired ideas and suggestions, the organisation also “helped us enormously, doing amazing work on editing not just the vocal scores, but the orchestral ones as well”.It was Spontini who ushered in the new era of Romantic opera in Paris, with his groundbreaking La Vestale of 1807 –a gripping, passionate scene from this work provides the earliest music on Boulevard des Italiens. Bernheim also performs music by Spontini’s near contemporary Cherubini, with an aria taken from the little-known Ali Baba (1833) and notable for its use of the high C’s which by this time every tenor had to have as part of his vocal armoury. From the early 1800s onwards, the roster of visiting Italian composers grew. One of the most successful among their ranks was Donizetti. Bernheim has chosen excerpts from three of the operas the composer premiered in the French capital, including the less frequently performed Dom Sébastien, his final work in the genre, as well as the ever popular La Fille du régiment and La Favorite. When it comes to the towering figure of Verdi, Bernheim has even bigger surprises in store. It is a revelation to hear the lilting tenor aria from Jérusalem, the composer’s French version of I lombardi–“transformed beyond all recognition”, as Verdi put it –as well as a genuine rarity, an aria for the tenor hero in his epic Les Vêpres siciliennes. This number was written not for the first performance but as a replacement aria in a later revival, and tucked away as an appendix in one early edition of the score. Verdi’s Don Carlos is, as Bernheim says, “a central piece for me”. For this album he selected the hero’s beautiful opening aria and the famous stirring duet for tenor and baritone in its longer, more nuanced original French version, featuring a guest appearance from baritone Florian Sempey.
The connections between Puccini and Paris are many and deep, not least for the version of Madama Butterfly premiered at the Opéra Comique in 1906 which established the definitive score of the opera. Up until the 1960s it was customary to sing Puccini in French. In reviving this tradition with two well-known arias from Madama Butterfly and Tosca, Bernheim gives an ideal demonstration of the way that “the French language, with its different accents and more nasal vowels, brings a new sonority to this music”. Completing the historical overview, an extended scene from Mascagni’s performed Amica, written to a French libretto and first performed in Monte Carlo in 1905, allows Bernheim to revel in the sound of French combined with Italian verismo at its most heartfelt. The recording sessions with conductor Frédéric Chaslin and the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna took place in April 2021 –“just as the world was opening up again”, recalls Bernheim. “It was a wonderful feeling, both personally and musically,” he adds. “We were literally immersed in Italian sonorities.”Benjamin Bernheim has received widespread acclaim for both his stage performances and his 2019 debut album on Deutsche Grammophon, for whom he records exclusively. On Boulevard des Italiens, the singer hailed by Diapason as “the new star tenor” not only gives an object lesson in French operatic singing, with diction praised for its “miraculous clarity”, but provides a fascinating survey of the symbiotic relationship between Paris and generations of Italian composers.

Benjamin Returns to the Role of Rodolfo at the Wiener Staatsoper


Benjamin commences the new year with a return to Rodolfo in Franco Zeffirelli’s La Bohème at the Wiener Staatsoper, a role that Bernheim sang opposite Marina Rebeka in the same production in 2018, and praised for his “beautiful tonal quality, of timbral clarity” and for capturing the “conversational, intimate narrative [between Mimi and Rodolfo] just right” (Parterre).

With a beautiful 19th century period setting, reflective of a Dickensian or Zolaesque style, this story demands the sense of gritty reality that this popular classic production repays in full.

Under the musical direction of Eun Sun Kim, Bernheim is joined by his colleagues; Nicole Carr as Mimi, Étienne Dupuis as Marcello and Slávka Zámečníková as Musetta. The opera has been performed almost a thousand times at the Wiener Staatsoper and is thus one of their most successful works ever. Join Bernheim as he takes the audience on a journey through this poignant love story of great joy and sorrow, to its tragic ending.

Tickets and additional information available here.

Inauguration Concert for the new Auditorium of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino


After a successful run of performances as Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Bernheim travels to Italy to perform at the inauguration of the new auditorium hall of the Teatro del Maggio (Zubin Mehta Hall) in Florence, on December 21st. The concert will be conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta with the Maggio Choir and Orchestra. Benjamin joins his colleague, Baritone soloist Mattia Olivieri for Puccini’s solemn Messa di Gloria. This historic event will be attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, as we see the new center of cultural production being brought to life for the first time, a venue that will reinforce the musical offering of the Maggio.

On December 22nd, Mr. Bernheim performs a similar program which includes Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and Bruckner’s Te Deum.

The concert on the 21st will be broadcast live on Rai 5 and Rai Radio 3 at 5:45, and on 22 December on Rai 3 at 3:25 pm.

More information and tickets on the 21st of December can be found here.

More information and tickets on the 21st of December can be found here.

Inauguration Concert for the new Auditorium of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino


After a successful run of performances as Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Bernheim travels to Italy to perform at the inauguration of the new auditorium hall of the Teatro del Maggio (Zubin Mehta Hall) in Florence. The concert will be conducted by Maestro Zubin Mehta with the Maggio Choir and Orchestra. Benjamin joins his colleague, Baritone soloist Mattia Olivieri for Puccini’s solemn Messa di Gloria. This historic event will be attended by the Head of State Sergio Mattarella, as we see the new center of cultural production being brought to life for the first time, a venue that will reinforce the musical offering of the Maggio.

More information and tickets can be found here.

House Debut at Gran Teatre del Liceu


French tenor Benjamin Bernheim makes his much-anticipated house debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona as Il Duca di Mantova in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Following the contours of a Shakespearean tragedy, this powerful piece of theatre tells the tragic story of Gilda, the innocent teenage daughter of hunchback court jester Rigoletto, who falls in love with the womanizing Duke. Benjamin first performed the licentious character of Il Duca in the 2019/20 season at the Bayerische Staatsoper, alongside Ludovic Tezier and Erin Morley. He will now be sharing the stage once again with soprano Olga Peretyatko as Gilda – following their recent performance together in ​Les Contes d’Hoffmann –  together with Christopher Maltman as Rigoletto. Under the musical direction of Daniele Callegari and stage director Monique Wagemaker, this exhilarating production, despite its dark themes of abuse and exploitation, will keep you riveted throughout the performance.

Performances are set for November 28, December 1,5,10,14, and 18.

Tickets and additional information can be found here.

 

PhotoL © David Ruano

“Les Contes d’Hoffmann” Broadcasts


Benjamin Bernheim’s recent triumphant role debut in the title role of “Les contes d’Hoffmann” at the Hamburg Staatsoper will be streamed on Premium and Mezzo Live HD and Deutsche Grammophon Stage. This performance recorded on September 22nd also features Olga Peretyatko, Angela Brower, and Luca Pisaroni. Kent Nagano conducts the Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper and the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg. Watch to see Benjamin’s performance that Deutschlandfunk calls “the best tenor at the moment for the title role.”

Mezzo Live HD: October 10, 12, 15, 17

Deutsche Grammophon: November 19

(Hyperlink streaming titles)

 

 

Upcoming Recitals


After a successful role debut as the title role in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” at the Staatsoper Hamburg, Benjamin Bernheim performs in recital in two European capitals. First is Paris for a recital on September 30th at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées with pianist Mathieu Pordoy. Then, on October 3rd, Benjamin makes his Vienesse recital debut at the Wiener Konzerthaus, also with pianist Mathieu Pordoy. Benjamin’s program includes songs by Schumann, Chausson, Poulenc, and more.

For tickets to Benjamin’s Paris recital, visit here.

For tickets to Benjamin’s Vienna recital, visit here.

Benjamin’s last recital, at the Salzburger Festspiele is available on Medici on replay here.

Benjamin Makes His Role and House Debut at the Staatsoper Hamburg


French tenor Benjamin Bernheim makes his long-awaited role and house debut​ ​at the Staatsoper Hamburg in the opening production of their 2021/22 season:​ ​“Les contes d’Hoffmann”. Under the stage direction of Daniele Finzi Pasca,​ ​Benjamin leads Offenbach’s opéra fantastique in the title role adding another role to his list of beloved French repertoire. He joins a cast including​ ​soprano Olga Peretyatko (who sings the three ladies) and​ ​mezzo-soprano Angela Bower (as Nicklausse) to explore this opera based on three short stories​ ​by E.T.A Hoffmann. Kent Nagano conducts this exemplary cast with the​ ​Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg and the Chor der Hamburg​ ​Staatsoper. Join​ ​Benjamin as he takes on the role of the poet and follow his​ ​adventures in search for love.

Performances are September 4, 7, 10, 16, 19, 22, 25. Tickets and additional
information are available here.

Recital with Mathieu Pordoy at Salzburg Festival


On August 15, Benjamin Bernheim and pianist Mathieu Pordoy will give a recital at the Salzburg Festival. Their program on the Haus für Mozart stage showcases Bernheim’s detailed interpretation of lieder by Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, Ernest Chausson’s song cycle Poème de l’amour et de la mer, and English songs of Benjamin Britten and Frank Bridge. This marks Bernheim’s third recital since his debut at the festival in 2012.

This marquee event of the 2021 Salzburg Festival will also be broadcast on medici.tv beginning August 17.

For tickets, visit salburgerfestpiele.at.
To watch this recital online, visit medici.tv.

Summer Concerts


Benjamin Bernheim sings in three concerts during the summer of 2021 in three different countries. On July 17th, he performs in a gala concert in Toulouse at the Théâtre du Capitole. Joined by young artists Anaïs Constans and Lila Dufy,  and Mikhail Timoshenko, he performs a program of arias and duets. The Orchestre national du Capitole is conducted by Marc Leroy-Calatayud, and pieces by Gounod, Massenet, Thomas, Rossini, Verdi and Puccini will be included in the program. Tickets and additional information are available here.

The following week, Benjamin travels to Spain to perform in recital at the Peralada Festival. For this July 24th concert, he is joined by pianist David Zobel for an evening of songs and arias. The full program can be found here, but tickets are no longer available for this sold-out performance.

Benjamin concludes his summer at the Salzburger Festspiele, where he returns to perform in recital with pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson on August 15th. A song recital has been carefully prepared which features pieces by Chausson, Britten, Clara Schumann, Brahms and Bridge. Additional information and tickets can be found here.

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