The composer’s delicious take on Much Ado About Nothing presents challenges to anyone presenting it. Quite often in English-speaking countries it’s done with a pair of narrators reading bits of Shakespeare in between the musical numbers.

I’ve only heard it once in person: I was out of town and had to miss Susan Graham and Gordon Gietz when L’Opera Français de New York performed it in 1997. However, six years later I did hear the New York Philharmonic under Sir Colin Davis perform Béatrice with Susanne Mentzer and Gietz (again) singing the squabbling lovers while Harriet Harris and David Hyde-Pierce spoke for them, with Philip Bosco as Leonato. I loved it!

Today’s Tanglewood broadcast instead presents Anglophone singers (plus Italo Tajo) performing the work with French spoken dialogue. You can be the judge of how well this works.

Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict

Béatrice: Frederica von Stade
Héro: Sylvia McNair
Ursule: Janice Taylor
Bénédict: Jon Garrison
Don Pedro: John Ostendorf
Claudio: David Parsons
Somarone: Italo Tajo

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Seiji Ozawa

Tanglewood Festival
4 August 1984

Béatrice can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.