Anyone who is tempted to overcome a natural aversion to opera, and see the production of Cellini at the ENO purely because Terry Gilliam has directed it, will not be disappointed. He’s obligingly tried to cram every trademark quirk of his best know films onto the stage. Peasants wearing medieval skullcaps with elongated earflaps – pompous nobles with bizarre wigs styled into a point – obviously fake backdrops, which still inspire a sense of monumental grandeur – not to mention an entire carnival, cavorting and grinding through the action.
The opera itself, unfortunately, remains an opera, by noted hack Hector Berlioz. You know the drill. There is a man – we like this man. There is another man – we don’t like this man. There is a pretty girl – both men like the pretty girl. People sing, etc… Fortunately the girl in question is played by Corinne Winters, who is thin and conventionally attractive enough that at least she won’t have to endure a slew of verbal sewerage from what passes for critics in the opera world. Her singing also seemed pretty good to me, but who gives a shit right?