Beatrice Cenci, Berthold Goldschmidt's opera written in 1950 as an emigré in London, received its Austrian premiere staging at the Bregenz Festival in July.
Berthold Goldschmidt’s opera Beatrice Cenci, composed in 1950 and first staged in 1994, received its Austrian premiere in July with a production by Johannes Erath at the Bregenz Festival. This dramatic examination of the debauched 16th century Cenci family attracted positive reviews, particularly for the transcending quality of the composer’s music for the heroine, both murderess and tragic victim. The Sunday Telegraph noted that, “as the Austrians show in Bregenz, it’s never too late to fall back in love with Goldschmidt’s music. How many times does a composer need to be vindicated before he remains in repertoire?” The performance was summed up as "a brilliantly focused staging of a neglected work".
“The music is amazingly beautiful. Yes, you hear about evil deeds, and see something of it - but nothing sounds cruel… In the third and final act, after Cenci’s murder, the opera turns into a requiem for the upright Beatrice, initiated by a farewell to the world - an absolutely stunning, song-like aria with orchestral interludes, dark poetry and a gorgeous melody.”
“Goldschmidt himself described his Beatrice Cenci as a bel canto opera. In contrast to the brutality of the drama the predominantly lyrical gestures intensify the pain, while the orchestra responds in symphonic manner with sharply accentuated percussion, free-tonal passages and powerful brass emerging from the abyss… In view of the compositional quality and the timeliness of the subject, more stages should devote themselves to this worthwhile opera.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“This is a wrongly forgotten work. Musically, Goldschmidt paints in dark, late-Romantic colours, with heavy brass dominating for long stretches in the first part. Then, after the interval, it gets brighter and brighter, with captivating melodies and delicate instrumentation telling of Beatrice's inner transformation.”
Photo: Bregenzer Festival/Karl Forster
> News Search