[Met Concert/Gala] CID:16320
Metropolitan Opera Premiere

In Concert
Eleventh Grand Sunday Night Concert

La Damnation de Faust {1}
Metropolitan Opera House: 02/2/1896.
 (Metropolitan Opera Premiere)
(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 2, 1896


ELEVENTH GRAND SUNDAY NIGHT CONCERT

Metropolitan Opera Premiere
In Concert

LA DAMNATION DE FAUST {1}
Berlioz-Berlioz/Gandonnière

Faust...................Albert Lubert
Marguerite..............Clémentine De Vere
Méphistophélès..........Pol Plançon
Brander.................Armand Castelmary

Conductor...............Anton Seidl

[Berlioz's opera received three performances. It was first staged by the company on 12/07/06.]

[Alternate title: The Damnation of Faust.]

Review by Reginald De Koven in The New York World:

A Really Excellent Performance of "The Damnation," a Geniunely Emotion Work.

 The name of Berlioz does not, I think, mean or represent much to the general musical public nowadays, and yet it is the name of a musical colossus, of a man who made the modern orchestra, of a genius who did more for the development and advancement of his art from an aesthetic and scientific standpoint than any composer since Beethoven, excepting only Wagner.

Of his "Romeo et Juliette" symphony Berlioz, the greatest critic of his day, wrote: "The public has no imagination; therefore for works of art which appeal purely to the imagination, there is no public." But that was - think of it after hearing the modernity of the Damnation - fifty years and more ago, and now still, if they do not entirely yet, appreciate admire and reverence the intellectual subtlety, the daring originality, the fertility of resource, the wealth of imagination in orchestral color and effect, the marvellous technical skill, the dramatic force and intensity, and the pictorial and emotional suggestiveness of a work like Berlioz's weird, fantastic, supernaturally thrilling setting of the Faust legend. "The Ride to Hall" may, as an eminent critic - Mr. Dannreuther - has said, exceed the limits of refined musical expression, but it is vastly and potently effective just the same, instinct with a temperamental energy and demoniac incisiveness which fairly carries one away on wings of genuine emotion. But the entire work is enormously and convincingly pictorial; one hardly misses the scenic effects which ought to accompany it to realize to the full all its dramatic possibilities, so forceful and realistic is the mental picture which it suggests. It should not be forgotten that Berlioz's was the first of the settings of the Faust legend, and his departures from the original poem, which as he remarks could not possibly be set entire, are surely justified by the successful outcome, by the variety and vivid imagery of the work as a whole.

The performance last night was in all respects an excellent one and rarely enjoyable throughout. I certainly hope and trust the management will repeat it before the end of the season, for besides being enjoyable it is vastly educational and instructive. Boito, nay even Gounod, is a musical pigmy compared to Berlioz.

Mr. Seidl conducted with great intelligence and appreciation, though I should have liked a little more delicate and fanciful sentiment in the "Ballet des Sylphes," and the "Menetudes Follets," which, with the famous Racoczy March, were the orchestral successes of the evening. The entire score was certainly eminently well played. M. Plançon as an artist has indeed few equals and no superiors. Mme. Vere-Sapio was entirely charming and satisfactory as Marguerite, singing with a purity of intonation and finish of vocal style, as always, most attractive. But Berlioz did not, it would seem, understand femininity like Gounod, and to me the music of Marguerite is the least valuable and attractive in the entire work. M. Lubert, as Faust, sang with both passion and intensity, but his voice in the upper register struck me as both strident and harsh. It cut me like a knife, and one does not like being cut. M. Castelmary, as Brander, sang his one song, "The Rat," exceedingly well, and disappeared followed by the best wishes of the audience, who, I am sure regretted, as I did, that he had so little to do.

I have seen larger Sunday night audiences, but I was delighted last night to see that those present seemed to appreciate the decided musical treat they were having to the full. I want to hear "The Damnation of Faust" again, very soon.



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