Joyce DiDonato / Michael Spyres / John Nelson

Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust

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Occasionally presented as a fully-staged production but most often heard in concert without scenery or costumes, Hector Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust has led a dual existence as an opera and an oratorio, either way curiously fitting the composer's unusual description of the work as a légende dramatique. Conductor and Berlioz specialist John Nelson presents this Erato box set as a follow-up to his 2019 release of the Requiem (Grande Messe des morts) and his 2017 recording of the monumental Les Troyens, recorded in the Salle Érasme, Strasbourg, where La Damnation de Faust was recorded in April 2019, with many of the same artists participating. Joyce DiDonato as Marguerite, Michael Spyres as Faust, and Nicolas Courjal as Méphistophélès will be familiar to listeners of Les Troyens, and the passion and energy they brought to that recording are vital to this performance. While there are certainly intensely dramatic episodes here, not least the hair-raising Pandaemonium scene, the most memorable aspect of the work is its glowing lyricism, with its ecstatic melodies and sumptuous orchestration giving the impression of a lyrical drama, despite the turmoil of Faust's soul and the machinations of Méphistophélès. One advantage of this concert recording is the forward-facing singing, which is ideal for capturing the vocals, which could have been muffled by the singers' movements in a stage performance. The recording is crystal clear and well-balanced between the voices and the orchestra, and the sound is essentially unblemished by extraneous noises. As a bonus feature, a DVD of the performance is included.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
La Damnation de Faust
1 05:43 Amazon
La Damnation de Faust
2 03:32 Amazon
3 00:57 Amazon
4 04:53 Amazon
5 04:58 Amazon
6 05:46 Amazon
7 01:31 Amazon
8 02:25 Amazon
9 02:55 Amazon
10 02:20 Amazon
11 01:27 Amazon
12 01:16 Amazon
13 01:37 Amazon
14 02:16 Amazon
15 02:28 Amazon
16 06:10 Amazon
17 02:10 Amazon
18 01:17 Amazon
19 01:27 Amazon
20 01:06 Amazon
21 02:23 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
La Damnation de Faust
1 01:07 Amazon
2 05:25 Amazon
3 01:02 Amazon
4 02:55 Amazon
5 04:57 Amazon
6 02:03 Amazon
7 05:58 Amazon
8 00:25 Amazon
9 02:09 Amazon
10 00:45 Amazon
11 05:09 Amazon
12 02:48 Amazon
13 02:16 Amazon
14 08:01 Amazon
15 02:08 Amazon
16 03:57 Amazon
17 03:27 Amazon
18 03:47 Amazon
19 01:55 Amazon
20 02:14 Amazon
21 01:19 Amazon
22 01:09 Amazon
La Damnation de Faust
23 01:03 Amazon
La Damnation de Faust
24 02:22 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick