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Roberto Benzi (b1937)

Roberto Benzi was born in Marseille of Italian parents. Musicians themselves, his parents realised early on that their son possessed exceptional musical talents. It was in Paris, however, that the young Roberto began to study with distinguished teachers and was able to consolidate and develop his musical gifts. From 1947 on he studied conducting with André Cluytens. These lessons were to influence his entire future. His own débuts as a conductor in 1948 marked the beginning of a career which in over 50 years has never ceased to flourish.

The young conductor’s precocious fame led him to star in two feature films: “Prelude to Glory” in 1949 and “Call to Destiny” in 1952. These films won widespread acclaim; even before beginning his university studies, Roberto Benzi was a celebrity.

In 1954 Benzi conducted his first opera, Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia. At the age of 21 (1959–60 season) he was engaged by the Paris Grand Opera Gamier to conduct R. Rouleau’s magnificent new production of Carmen. This was an important event, since Carmen had previously been performed only at the Opéra Comique. The first opera ever to be filmed live by French television, the production went on to tour Japan in 1961.




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