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The upcoming biopic, which will be released on Netflix on November 24, centres on the relationship between the American composer and his wife Felicia Montealegre (played by Carey Mulligan). Cooper also directs the film, and co-produces alongside Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
At a Los Angeles screening for Maestro, Cooper explained the lengths he went to in order to replicate Bernstein’s conducting style. The result of six years of dedication was six minutes of music that he recorded to use in one of the film’s final scenes.
“That scene I was so worried about because we did it live,” Cooper said at the event (via IndieWire). “That was the London Symphony Orchestra. I was recorded live. I had to conduct them. And I spent six years learning how to conduct six minutes and 21 seconds of music.”
“I was able to get the raw take where I just watched Leonard Bernstein [conduct] at Ely Cathedral with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976. And so I had that to study,” he added. “[Metropolitan Opera director] Yannick Nézet-Séguin made videos with all the tempo changes, so I had all of the materials to just work on.”
In a three-star review of Maestro, NME wrote: “Like A Star Is Born, Maestro peters out after an astonishing first act that frontloads all of Cooper’s directing tricks… As a portrait of Bernstein himself, the film offers compelling yet frustratingly brief observations of a man whose life didn’t always align with his profession.
“True to its word, this is a film that doesn’t seek to explain Bernstein or his most complicated relationship. Instead, it keeps the viewer at arm’s length, leaving us with a glossy biopic of a man who remains an enigma until the very end.”