Opera Scotland

Enfance du Christ L'Enfance du Christ; Childhood of Christ

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Music

Hector Berlioz (born La Côte St André, Isère, 11 December 1803; died Paris, 8 March 1869).

Text

Composer

 

Premieres

First Performance: Paris (Salle Herz), 10 December 1854.

First Performance in UK: Manchester (Free Trade Hall), 30 December 1880.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (St Andrew's Hall), 1 February 1906.

 

Background

L'enfance du Christ is a touching and subtle oratorio containing a great deal of beautiful music for orchestra and for chorus. While the Shepherds' Farewell is the most famous piece, frequently heard in isolation, it is only one of a number of exceptional moments.

The work was also unusual among his compositions, in that it was immediately successful at its Paris premiere. It was widely considered to be a gently lyrical piece, very different from what was usually expected. For the most part that is a fair assessment, though Herod's music is far more dramatic.

 

Characters

Récitant - Narrator (tenor)

Herod (bass)

Virgin Mary (soprano or mezzo)

Joseph (baritone)

Père de famille - father of the family (bass)

Roman centurion (tenor)

Polydorus (bass)

 

Plot Summary

Part 1 - Herod has a dream. When its meaning is interpreted he orders all newborn children in Judaea to be killed.

Part 2 - Mary and Joseph are warned of this by angels and so they flee to Egypt with the infant Jesus.

Part 3 - They arrive at thr Egyptian town of Sais, where they are taken in and given shelter by a family of Ishmaelites.

The Cast

Centurion
 
Hérode
 King of Judaea
Père de famille
 Leader of the Ishmaelites
Polydorus
 
Récitant
 
St Joseph
 
Ste Marie
 

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