H. Berlioz, Symphony Fantastic
H. Berlioz, Lélio ou le Retour à la vie
artistic director, Jérémie Rhorer
Horatio, La voix imaginaire de Lélio, Mathias Vidal
Le Capitaine, Vincent Le Texier
Lélio, récitant, Eric Génovèse, sociétaire de la Comédie Française
Chœur du Conservatoire Darius Milhaud d’Aix-en-Provence
préparation du choeur, Jérôme Cottenceau
conductor, Jérémie Rhorer
It is up to the Cercle de l’Harmonie and its conductor Jérémie Rhorer to carry this exceptional diptych: the Symphonie fantastique and its suite Lélio.
In 1827 in Paris, Hector Berlioz experienced an aesthetic reversal when he discovered William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Irish actress Harriet Smithson in the role of Ophelia. The cocktail was explosive: this tragic character, moody and dreamlike if anything, played by a woman of overwhelming beauty and talent, triggered an obsessive passion in Berlioz (which intensified when he saw the actress as Juliet). Hoping to captivate the actress, but also to fulfill his destiny as a great composer, Berlioz imagined the Symphonie fantastique, subtitled “Episode of the Life of an Artist” – his first great success. With this masterpiece, he revolutionized the genre: he introduced instruments then reserved for opera, gave titles to each of its movements, published a program specifying their content; then, inspired by his discovery of Beethoven’s symphonies, he magnified the use of a recurring theme whose appearances structure the drama, designated as an “idée fixe.
After reworking his Symphonie fantastique, Berlioz imagined a sequel to it, Lélio ou le Retour à la vie: the idée fixe had not finished haunting the artist when he awoke from his nightmarish visions. Berlioz said of Lélio at the time of its creation: “The subject of the musical drama is none other than the story of my love for Miss Smithson, of my anxieties, of my painful dreams…”. Played by Éric Génovèse, member of the Comédie-Française, Lélio addresses his meditations to the audience, leading them into the worlds of Goethe and Shakespeare before redirecting them to the only consoler of his ills: music itself.