The 2018 Berlioz series saw a more varied exploration than ever: from the Byron-inspired frolic in the Abruzzi mountains in Harold en Italie, to the swashbuckling Corsaire overture, and dazzling evocations of two ancient exotic queens: Dido (in an excerpt from Les Troyens) and Cleopatra in the eponymous cantata. The Symphonie Fantastique completed the programme in selected performances, and part of the tour also saw performances of Lélio, a rarely-performed dramatic work for narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra, which – like the Symphonie Fantastique – documents Berlioz’s unhappy love affairs.
This exciting mix of essential Berlioz masterpieces was showcased in a variety of different programmes at prestigious venues in both Europe and the US, including concert halls in New York, Amsterdam, Paris and Versailles. A world-class roster of acclaimed soloists joined the orchestra for these much-anticipated performances including the multi award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, French mezzo-soprano Lucile Richardot, Berlioz specialist Michael Spyres, English bass Ashley Riches, and celebrated violist Antoine Tamestit. The ORR was also accompanied by the National Youth Choir of Scotland, and English actor and theatre director Simon Callow as the narrator in performances of Lélio.