Performance of Berlioz's 'Faust'marks composer's anniversary

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Conductor Charles Dutoit [Photo provided to China Daily]

Marking the 150th anniversary of the death of French composer Hector Berlioz, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo performed his La Damnation de Faust (The Damnation of Faust) under the baton of Charles Dutoit on Monday at the Poly Theater. 

Berlioz was inspired to write La Damnation de Faust after reading Part One of Goethe's Faust in 1828. The legendary piece, which the composer wrote for four solo voices, a full seven-part chorus, a large children's chorus and orchestra, was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on Dec 6, 1846.

In 2002, Chinese conductor Yu Long and the China Philharmonic Orchestra performed the piece during the Beijing Music Festival, an annual classical music festival launched in 1998. Now in its 22th year, the Beijing Music Festival kicked off Oct 4 and will run till Monday, featuring 22 performances, including operas, symphonic concerts, recitals, chamber music concerts and virtual reality music experiences.

"This is my 32nd trip to China and along with the Beijing Music Festival, we've premiered many works in China," said the Swiss conductor Dutoit, 83, at the Poly Theater before the two-hour-long concert started. "This monumental piece is very symphonic and each part, the soloists, the chorus and the orchestra, brings everything alive and vivid onstage."

Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea plays the role of Mefistofeles, while American tenor Paul Groves plays the role of Faust. Romanian mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose plays the role of Marguerite.

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