10 Sep 2018

Prom 71: Berlioz Series 2018

Joined by world-renowned soloists Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano) and Antoine Tamestit (viola), John Eliot Gardiner and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique showcased a programme of works spanning Berlioz’s career at this year’s BBC Proms.

The ORR were on their feet to begin the evening with the swashbuckling Corsaire overture, which was followed by DiDonato embodying the ancient exotic queen Cléopatra in the eponymous cantata La Mort de Cléopatra. The focus was then back on the ORR as they performed the famous ‘Royal Hunt and Storm’ interlude from Les Troyens, before DiDonato subsequently took on the role of Dido, presenting her heartbreaking death scene. After the interval, Gardiner and the ORR began Berlioz’s second symphony Harold en Italie without a soloist in sight, however Tamestit soon came to the stage, wandering through the orchestra and joining in duets with various players. The ORR were then back on their feet for the final movement of Harold to round off the evening.

Here’s a round-up of the press reviews:

Financial Times ★★★★★ - Richard Fairman
‘Berlioz done brilliantly… both conductor and orchestra were on top form with a thrillingly dynamic programme of the French composer’s work’

The Times ★★★★★ - Richard Morrison
‘A sensational interpretation of Berlioz’

The Telegraph ★★★★ - Ivan Hewett and Rupert Christiansen
‘…the music was brought to vivid life by the period instruments of John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.’

Bachtrack ★★★★★ - Mark Pullinger
‘Gardiner had his players standing, generating terrific energy’

‘Gardiner thoroughly embraced Berlioz’s theatrical eccentricity and the results were riveting’