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Maestro - What We Know So Far

It's difficult to tell the story of music in the 20th century without mentioning legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. It's equally difficult to sum up Bernstein's incredible career in just a few sentences, but that's what we'll try to do anyway.

His contributions to classical music are undeniable. With his tenure as musical director and conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, he became the first American-born conductor to lead a major national orchestra anywhere (via Britannica). He used mass media like radio and television to introduce classical music to more people than ever before (per LeonardBernstein.com). Yet classical music was just one area in which he excelled. He was also a prolific composer, writing operas, ballets, and musical scores for Broadway shows like "West Side Story" and "Our Town." His greatest contribution might be redefining what makes "good" music.

All of that would be enough to fuel a musical biopic, but that's not quite what the upcoming Netflix film "Maestro" is setting out to do. While it will cover Bernstein's life as a musician, it will spend just as much time on his complicated personal life. Here's everything we know so far about the biopic. 

What is the release date for Maestro?

"Maestro" doesn't have a firm release date yet, but it does have a release window. As star Bradley Cooper explained on the "Smartless" podcast hosted by Will Arnett, Sean Hayes, and Jason Bateman (starting at 1:02:00), "Maestro" will premiere sometime in Fall 2023.

As reported by Variety, the project has been in the works for at least the last four and a half years. Cooper joined the project as the director and star in 2018. In Variety's "Actors on Actors" series, Cooper confirmed that filming would begin in May 2022, which it did. Filming took place at the Tanglewood music center from May 21 to May 25 (per Project Casting). The production also spent October 17 to October 25 filming at Cambrdigeshire's Ely Cathedral (via Cambridgeshire Live). That's where Bernstein conducted the London Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," in 1973, and the film will be recreating it.

Who is in the cast of Maestro?

"A Star Is Born" director and star Bradley Cooper will be once again filling those roles for "Maestro." The first images of Cooper in prosthetic Leonard Bernstein makeup created by Oscar-winner Kazu Hiro set the Internet on fire when they were published back in May. 

As reported by Deadline, Carey Mulligan ("Drive") will be playing the role of Bernstein's wife, the Chilean-American actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Matt Bomer ("Magic Mike") will be joining them in another major role, a clarinet player with whom Bernstein had a brief dalliance–more on this below. Bomer's character hasn't been named yet (per Variety).

Rounding out the main cast are Maya Hawke ("Stranger Things") in the role of Leonard and Felicia's daughter Jamie Bernstein, and Sarah Silverman ("Masters of Sex") as Leonard's sister Shirley (via Deadline). Deadline also noted that "Succession" star Jeremy Strong will be playing music critic and Bernstein biographer John Gruen.

IMDb lists Sam Nivola as playing Alexander Bernstein, Leonard and Felicia's son. Their other daughter Nina Bernstein Simmons will also be a character in the story, but the casting is unknown at this point.

What is the plot of Maestro?

Deadline shared the official synopsis for "Maestro": "The drama tells the complex love story of Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein, a story that spans over 30 years–from the time they met in 1946 at a party and continuing through two engagements, a 25-year marriage, and [three] children." That echoes how Cooper described the movie on the "Smartless" podcast (around 17:00), where he said that it's not a traditional musical biopic like "Elvis" or "Bohemian Rhapsody," but rather a movie about marriage. 

The relationship between Leonard and Felicia was certainly a complicated one. As Variety noted, Bernstein never officially came out as gay, but did have multiple relationships with men. He left Felicia in 1976 for a male radio station manager, but reconciled with his wife after her cancer diagnosis. 

Even though "Maestro" will focus on Leonard Bernstein's personal life, it will also recreate several highlights from his illustrious career. We already know one of them will be the Mahler symphony at Ely Cathedral.

Who's writing, directing, and producing Maestro?

As noted above, Bradley Cooper is not just the star and the director but also the co-screenwriter and an executive producer. Cooper was previously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for "A Star Is Born," but he's never been nominated for a directing Oscar. Altogether Cooper has nine Academy Award nominations total (per Gold Derby). Cooper wrote the screenplay along with screenwriter Josh Singer. Singer has previously written the films "Spotlight," "First Man," and "The Post," and he's written for the TV shows "The West Wing," "Lie to Me," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

"Maestro" also has an impressive roster of producers. Besides Cooper, it's being produced by Martin Scorsese ("The Irishman"), Stephen Spielberg ("West Side Story"), Todd Phillips ("Joker"), Fred Berner ("Pollock"), Amy Durning ("The Catch"), Emma Tillinger Koskoff ("Joker"), and Kristie Macosco Krieger ("West Side Story") (via Deadline). 

At this point there's no trailer yet for "Maestro," but no doubt more will be revealed in the coming year.