Benvenuto Cellini, the great Florentine artist, is sentenced to hang, but he is pardoned when the duke realizes that he has not completed a previously commissioned sculpture. Freed, Cellini is able to turn his attention to his favorite model (and object of his affections), Angela. The Duke also is interested in Angela. In a typical operetta plot, Cellini swashbuckles around the stage, keeping the Duke away from Angela, keeping himself away from the Duchess, and escaping yet another death sentence by fleeing to Paris, as the end of the show recapitulates the beginning.
Originally seen on Broadway in 1945, this effervescent comedy - an American equivalent to the opera comique of Offenbach - was brilliantly revived for the BBC’s Kurt Weill Weekend at the Barbican, where Rodney Gilfry starred in the title role in a concert performance with Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (a performance recorded by Capriccio). The show offers a standout lead role for a baritone and a score featuring songs like “Life, Love, and Laughter”, “You’re Far Too Near Me” and “Sing Me Not a Ballad.”