The Gulbenkian Choir performs this week in the French city of Strasbourg, with the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and the soprano Joyce DiDonato, for the interpretation of Hector Berlioz’s The Damage of Faust.
The recitals are held on Thursday and Friday at the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès in the Bordeaux Square in Strasbourg, and also include tenor Michael Spyres, with whom DiDonato starred in Berlioz’s “The Trojans” in Strasbourg, in a version directed by conductor John Nelson, who won the BBC, Gramophone and Victoire de La Musique awards for best opera in 2018.
“Glory to DiDonato,” wrote the French critic, when the soprano sang the role of Dido at the premiere of this version of Berlioz’s drama in April 2017, and also wrote The Guardian newspaper, which highlighted the “dramatic singer, both in acting with Nelson and, in August last year, at the Promenade Concerts in London with maestro John Eliot Gardiner.
“The consensus around the vocal quality of DiDonato is something truly unusual,” said the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in the soprano’s presentation, citing critics who put it “among the greatest legends of lyric singing,” Gramophone magazine (“when Joyce sings the world becomes brighter “) and the newspaper The Financial Times (” the best song that has been heard in recent years “).
The meeting of the Gulbenkian Choir with DiDonato in France takes place almost a year after the soprano presented the baroque ‘War and Peace’ program in Lisbon, which followed a chamber music recital in 2016 and the ‘ Drama Queens’ in 2013, always at the Great Gulbenkian Auditorium.
Berlioz is one of the most present-day composers on the DiDonato scene, especially after having performed the cycle ‘Les Nuits d’Étè’, and having performed ‘The Damnation of Faust’ at the Berlin Philharmonic with conductor Simon Rattle in interpretation that the blog of critic Bachtrack said to fulfill the work, when abrir “a freeway to the hell”.
‘The Damage of Faust’, which Berlioz defined as a ‘dramatic legend’, is inspired by Goethe’s poem and its myth. It is a work designed for four soloist voices, a choir, white voices and orchestra, which translates the composer’s mastery of large-scale devices.
“The dominant qualities of my music are passionate expression, inner ardor, rhythmic rapture and unforeseen. And when I say passionate expression, it means the furor of reproducing the innermost sense of a theme, even if it is contrary to passion “wrote Berlioz in the Memoires (Flammarion edition).
‘The Damnation of Faust’ in Strasbourg, will also feature the baritone Alexandre Duhamel and the bass Nicolas Courjal, other interpreters of reference of the French composer, who died in March of 1869, 150 years ago.
These two concerts in the French city continue the international itinerary of the Choir Gulbenkian, in the current season, after the performance in Madrid in November, with a program of sacred music of Marian inspiration, and before the presence in Tenerife, next June , for ‘A German Requiem’ by Brahms.
The Gulbenkian Orchestra, on the other hand, will have a national tour, starting in Portalegre and Beja, on 30 and 31 May, respectively, under the direction of José Eduardo Gomes, to perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, with André Gaio Pereira, as soloist, and Symphony No. 8 of Beethoven.
On June 19, the orchestra will be at the Casa da Música in Oporto, and the next day at the Convento S. Francisco in Coimbra, with the conductor, Lorenzo Viotti, and a program that includes the 2nd Concerto for violin of Sergei Prokofiev, with Leticia Moreno, as soloist, and the 5ª Symphony of Tchaikovsky.