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  • 1 year ago
Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet

Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet

Inspired by a stage performance of Romeo and Juliet starring the same Harriet Smithson who inspired his epic romantic tale Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz set out to compose a totally new kind of orchestra and chorus work: his Romeo et Juliette. In the forward to what he was careful not to call an opera but a “symphonie dramatique,” Berlioz tells of his decision to voice to the characters’ most intimate and sublime emotions not through words but “instrumental language, which is richer, more varied, less fixed, and by its very flow incomparably more powerful.” From the starting Allegro, depicting the warring houses of Montague and Capulet, to the Finale’s oratory oath of reconciliation, this work uses the (then new) language of programmatic orchestral writing to tell the oldest love story in the world.