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Opera and Oratory

The Childhood of Christ

Christmas Concert

Frédéric Chaslin ©Bernard Martinez

Frédéric Chaslin ©Bernard Martinez

La Fuga in Egitto(c.1304-1306).Giotto Di Bondone(c.1267-c.1337).Cappella degli Scrovegni,Pádua(Itália).©José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro/CC BY-SA 4.0.Fonte:Wikimedia Commons

In 1850, Berlioz composed a chorale for organ entitled The Shepherds’ Farewell, presenting it on 12 November of that same year. However, perhaps inspired by the success obtained with works rescued from the past by such composers as Mendelssohn (in the case of J. S. Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew), Berlioz presented this chorale, not as an original work, but instead passed it off as the recovery that he had made of a work written by a composer he referred to as “old Ducré”. Inspired by the success of this first presentation, he decided to add to it a piece for tenor (Le repos de la sainte famille), and an overture entitled The Flight into Egypt. He published the work in 1852 and presented it in December of the following year in Leipzig, incidentally the city of the Passion According to St. Matthew of J. S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. As expected, the Leipzig audience greeted this presentation with enormous enthusiasm, even though all that remained of this supposed French Bach’s work was this same chorale. Berlioz was encouraged by them all to continue the work and this was how the oratorio The Childhood of Christ came into being. Essentially composed between 1853 and 1854, this work was first performed at the Salle Herz, in Paris, on 10 December 1854. The soloists came from the Ópera-Comique and the piece was conducted by Berlioz himself.
Divided into three parts, this sacred trilogy, as the composer himself called it, begins with the massacre of the new-born children, decreed by Herod. The second and the third parts deal with the flight into Egypt and the refuge given to the Holy Family by a family of Ishmaelites.
Berlioz was not religious, but he could not resist religious music, something that had stayed with him from his childhood. It was precisely this spirit that he managed to bring to this oratorio, where the music alternates between more narrative and dramatic moments and others of great spirituality. The work is now forever linked with the spirit of Christmas, especially the famous Shepherds’’ Farewell.

Portuguese Symphony Orchestra
Choir of the National Theater of São Carlos

Marco Alves dos Santos tenor Narrador
Cátia Moreso meio-soprano Virgem Maria
André Baleiro barítone São José
Paul Gay baixo Herodes/Um Pai de Família
João Merino Polidoro
Bruno Almeida  Um centurião
Frédéric Chaslin musical direction

H. Berlioz The Childhood of Christ

Coproduction | CCB | OPART

16 december 2018 | 05:00PM

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