Leonard Bernstein biopic ‘Maestro’ sparks 7-minute standing ovation at Venice Film Festival premiere

4 September 2023, 14:48

Watch the teaser for Maestro

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

All three of Bernstein’s children attended the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and could be seen conducting along to the end credits as the film received an almost 10-minute standing ovation from its audience.

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The upcoming biopic, Maestro, about master conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein received its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this weekend to rave reviews and a notable standing ovation.

The film directed by and starring Bradley Cooper follows the love story of Bernstein and his wife Felicia Montealegre, played in the biopic by Carey Mulligan. A recent teaser trailer revealed that the film will explore the legendary conductor’s sexuality and the intricacies of his marriage, alongside Bernstein’s burgeoning musical career.

While Cooper and Mulligan were not at the Venice premiere of the film due to the ongoing actors’ strike, the event was attended by all three of Bernstein’s children, Jamie, Alexander and Nina.

In footage shared by Variety after the premiere, the American conductor and composer’s children can be seen ‘conducting’ along to the closing credit music of Bernstein’s Candide Overture, a triumphant instrumental work, while the film’s audience stands clapping. According to reports, the standing ovation at the end of the film lasted for at least seven minutes.

Read more: Maestro: Everything to know about Bradley Cooper’s upcoming Bernstein biopic on Netflix

Canadian conductor, and music director of the Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, was also in attendance at the premiere, as he acted as an advisor to Cooper’s conducting.

With many noting the similarities between Nézet-Séguin and Bernstein’s conducting, the Canadian conductor was also chosen to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra for the new recordings of the film’s soundtrack.

Pictured with the three Bernstein children, Nézet-Séguin said the Venice premiere was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience”.

Writing an Instagram post the day after the premiere, the Canadian maestro said, “The nearly 10-minute standing ovation was a beautiful reminder of the overwhelming joy I felt to be a part of this incredible work of art, and I can't wait to share it with the world. This goes to you, Bradley!⁣⁣”

Read more: 11 great LGBTQ+ conductors you should know, from Leonard Bernstein to Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein with Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the ‘Maestro’ world premiere
Jamie, Alexander and Nina Bernstein with Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the ‘Maestro’ world premiere. Picture: Getty images

The film has already proved itself to be a frontrunner for some of the film industry’s biggest awards, with the Guardian calling it “head-flingingly heartfelt”, and the Hollywood Reporter describing it as “emotional as the subject’s music.”

While neither Cooper nor Mulligan were at the premiere, Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barber did reveal to journalists that following the premiere, he and Cooper exchanged text messages about the reception Maestro received.

Barbera told Deadline in a post-Venice interview, “Last night we exchanged some texts. [Cooper] was extremely happy. He didn’t know about the reaction.

“He told me that he doesn’t read any reviews at all, not even the good ones. He doesn’t want anything to interfere with his process of finding and telling other stories.”

Read more: Bradley Cooper reveals he is classically trained and ‘has spent hundreds of hours conducting’

Maestro is set to arrive in select theatres on 22 November and lands on Netflix on 20 December 2023.