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Maestro Release Date, Cast, Plot, Trailer And More Details

It's difficult to tell the story of music in the 20th century without mentioning legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. 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 maestro to lead a major national orchestra anywhere in the world, and he used emerging and prominent mass media like radio and television to introduce classical music to wide and diverse audiences. 

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 ambitious biopic. 

When will Maestro be released?

"Maestro" has been in the works for more than four years, and Bradley Cooper joined the project as director and star back in 2018, after a busy Steven Spielberg decided to pass on the project. The legendary filmmaker then gave the job to Cooper after watching about 20 minutes of his first directorial effort, "A Star Is Born." Fast forward to 2023, where "Maestro" premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September. But when will it be available for the rest of us to watch? Well, the musical biopic will play in a select number of movie theaters on November 22, and it will then make its way to Netflix on December 20.

What is the plot of Maestro?

According to the official plot synopsis, "Maestro" will tell "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, 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 he 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. But even though "Maestro" will focus on Leonard Bernstein's personal life, it will also recreate several highlights from his illustrious career, with one of them being when Bernstein conducted the London Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection," in 1973 at Ely Cathedral.

Who is starring in Maestro?

Fresh off his run as the voice of Rocket Raccoon in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" trilogy and fantastic turns in acclaimed projects like "Licorice Pizza" and "Nightmare Alley," Bradley Cooper will take on the challenging, titular role of composer Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro." Not only did Cooper's casting in the project generate some early attention for the film, but so did the first images of Cooper in prosthetic Leonard Bernstein makeup, created by Oscar-winner Kazu Hiro.

Fellow multiple Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan ("Drive," "Promising Young Woman") will play Bernstein's wife, Chilean-American actor Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Matt Bomer ("Magic Mike") will portray a concert clarinetist with whom Bernstein had a brief dalliance. Rounding out the main cast are Maya Hawke ("Stranger Things") in the role of Leonard and Felicia's daughter, Jamie Bernstein, and comedian Sarah Silverman ("Masters of Sex") as Leonard's sister, Shirley. Plus, "Succession" star Jeremy Strong will be playing music critic and Bernstein biographer John Gruen.

Who is writing, directing, and producing Maestro?

Repeating the arrangement employed on the blockbuster, award-winning 2018 remake of "A Star is Born," Bradley Cooper won't just star in "Maestro." He's also the co-screenwriter, an executive producer, and the director of the Leonard Bernstein biography. 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. Cooper wrote the screenplay along with screenwriter Josh Singer, who previously scripted the films "Spotlight," "First Man," and "The Post," and he's also worked on 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 guided to the screen by Martin Scorsese ("The Irishman") and Steven Spielberg ("West Side Story") — both of whom were attached to direct at different points — as well as Todd Phillips ("Joker"), Fred Berner ("Pollock"), Amy Durning ("The Catch"), Emma Tillinger Koskoff ("Joker"), and Kristie Macosco Krieger.

Is there a trailer for Maestro?

On August 15, 2023, Netflix released a brief teaser trailer for "Maestro." The tastefully packaged, minute-long series of clips establishes that "Maestro" will tell much of its story from the point of view of Bernstein's wife, Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein (top-billed Carey Mulligan). She looks on as her husband records and performs to thunderous accolades — and occasionally succumbs to the pressure of it all while their relationship develops across the decades.

Two months later, the full trailer for "Maestro" arrived. It begins with an elderly Bernstein, walking through the palatial home his musical mastery bought him and opining about the nature of his art: "If summer doesn't sing in you, then nothing sings in you. And if nothing sings in you, then you can't make music." That's something his wife, Felicia, once told him, and the trailer then provides a whirlwind montage of their complicated marriage over the years, juxtaposed with Bernstein's ascent to the top of the modern classical music world. 

Both Leonard and Felicia bask in his adulation and fame, raise a family, and grow old. Sarah Silverman pops up as Bernstein's cool sister, who warns Felicia to tread lightly with her brother, and then there's more concert and conducting footage, beautifully shot moments of romantic and musical ecstasy, and philosophizing about art. It all winds back around to that bookend quote, with Felicia delivering it sometime in the nostalgia-tinted past.