It may seem unusual for a renowned film director to suddenly switch mediums and helm an opera, but such a thing has happened a number of times before: for example, Woody Allen has directed Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” for the Los Angeles Opera; legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has helmed Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” for the Aix-en-Provence Festival; Julie Taymor has directed Mozart‘s “The Magic Flute“ for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as the Broadway musical adaptations of “The Lion King” and “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark“; Roman Polanski has helmed Verdi’s “Rigoletto” for the Bavarian State Opera; William Friedkin has directed a version of Alban Berg’s “Wozzeck”; and Werner Herzog has helmed a number of Wagner productions including “Doktor Faust,” “The Flying Dutchman” and “Parsifal”.
Terry Gilliam is among this elite group, having helmed several operas, including directing Hector Berlioz’s “The Damnation of Faust” at the English National Opera, a collaboration with Music Director Edward Gardner. Gilliam and Gardner have also reunited for the English National Opera’s production of Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini,” about the 16th-century goldsmith, sculptor, soldier, draftsman, musician and poet of the same name. For the production, Gilliam also served as the co-set designer, and the sets include a tricked-out Mardi Gras carnival befitting of one of Gilliam’s trippier cinematic visions.
A video has surfaced of Gilliam’s nearly 3-hour 2014-2015 production of “Benvenuto Cellini” for the Dutch National Opera, a co-production with the English National Opera and Italy’s Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, with Sir Mark Elder serving as the Conductor and Musical Director. As you might guess it’s eye-popping stuff, so settle in and check it out below.