Unusually, this week's presentation from the Metropolitan Opera is on a Monday night.  Yesterday we broadcast two operas by women composers for International Women's Day and as part of our week of Women In Music Days.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York gives a concert performance of Berlioz's 'The Damnation of Faust'.

 

Elīna Garanča and the Met Chorus in La Damnation de Faust

Elīna Garanča and the Met Chorus in La Damnation de Faust Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Monday 9 March 2020 at 8pm on RNZ Concert

Metropolitan Opera Season 

BERLIOZ: La Damnation de Faust

Cast:

Elīna Garanča  (Marguerite), Michael Spyres (Faust), Ildar Abdrazakov (Méphistophélès), Patrick Carfizzi (Brander), Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner 

Recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (Met Opera)

Synopsis of La Damnation de Faust

Edward Gardner conducts La Damnation de Faust at The Met

Edward Gardner conducts La Damnation de Faust at The Met Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Berlioz’s magnificent exploration of the Faust legend is a unique operatic journey. The visionary French composer was inspired by a bold translation of Goethe’s dramatic poem Faust and produced a monumental and bewildering musical work that, like the masterpiece on which it's based, defies easy categorisation. Conceived at various times as a free-form oratorio and as an opera, 'La Damnation de Faust' is both intimate and grandiose, exquisitely beautiful and blaringly rugged, hugely ambitious, and presciently cinematic.

La Damnation de Faust at The Met

La Damnation de Faust at The Met Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Hector Berlioz (1803–1869), a French composer, conductor, music critic, and essayist, was a colossus of 19th-century musical life. More celebrated as a conductor and writer in his own day, his uninhibited reviews and articles for journals of his time make for lively reading even today. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), whose Faust served as the inspiration for Berlioz’s opera, is regarded as the preeminent figure of German literature.

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in La Damnation de Faust

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in La Damnation de Faust Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Berlioz’s score is as fragmented, wild, and imaginative as the dramatic poem it depicts. Yet for all the massive effects and unusual yet transcendent moments that have impressed (or offended) critics and audiences from Berlioz’s time to our own, the opera achieves some of its greatest moments through daring restraint.

More about Berlioz:

  • Ten things about Berlioz
  • Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)