According to China Daily, China's
official English language newspaper, after the success of
the China Philharmonic Orchestra's 2002 New Year Concert,
the orchestra is ready for its next significant move.
On January 22 and 23, the China Philharmonic
Orchestra will perform Berlioz's dramatic legend "La
Damnation de Faust," which will be the China premiere
of this romantic work.
French tenor Jean-Pierre Furlan, Chinese baritone Liao
Changyong and mezzo-soprano Cao Zheng, the dramatic legend
will be sung in French.
Under the baton of Yu
Long, artistic director of the China Philharmonic Orchestra,
the Chorus of the China National Symphony Orchestra will
also join the performance.
Damnation de Faust" is one of many 19th- century
musical works based on Goethe's "Faust." This
popular poem was used by many composers who set it to music,
including Wagner, Schumann and Liszt.
did not write an opera. He called "La Damnation de
Faust" a "dramatic legend." It is a
succession of somewhat static scenes, more like a pageant.
Most of the action doesn't even happen on the stage but
"within the music."
performance of "La Damnation de Faust" was only
attended by a small audience. Only two performances were
staged during Berlioz's entire lifetime, both failures.
"...Faust twice performed to a half-empty
room. The concert-going Parisian public, supposed to be fond
of music, stayed quietly at home, caring as little about my
new work as if I had been an obscure student at the
Conservatoire; and these two performances at the
Opera-Comique were no better attended than if they had been
the most wretched operas in the theatre's repertory..."
wrote Berlioz in his memoirs.
might be due to the unfamiliarity of the audience to
Berlioz's new form of "dramatic legend," which
differed from both traditional opera and chorus works.
However, since 1877, "La Damnation de
Faust" became one of the most welcomed works in France.
More than 100 productions of it were staged in 30 years.
Tunes from the work such as "Rakoczy March,"
"Dance of the Sylphs" and "Dance of the
Will-o'-the-wisps" also became favorites in concerts.
The year 2003 will mark the 200th anniversary
of the birth of Berlioz. Supported by the French Embassy in
China, the China Philharmonic Orchestra's "La Damnation
de Faust" will be a tribute to the great French
In the China Philharmonic
Orchestra's performance of the work, the three main
characters, Faust, Mephistopheles and Marguerite will be
played by Jean-Pierre Furlan, Liao Changyong and Cao Zheng.
Baritone Liao is a winner of many
international awards, including first prize at the 1997
Placido Domingo Operalia Competition, the largest
international vocal competition, first prize at the Queen
Sonja International Music Competition in Norway and first
prize at the 41st Toulouse International Singing Competition
Born to a farmer's family in rural
Sichuan Province in Southwest China in 1968, Liao was
recruited by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music at the age
of 19. Trained under renowned professor Zhou Xiaoyan and
tenor Luo Wei, he completed his bachelor's and master's
degrees and was recently given the prestigious position of
vocal department director at the Shanghai Conservatory of
On November 10, 2000, Liao made his US
debut at the Kennedy Center singing Count di Luna in
"Il Trovatore" with the Washington Opera under the
baton of Placido Domingo.
The highlights of
Liao's performances in the last three years have included
performances with Jose Carreras in a joint concert to
inaugurate the Shanghai Grand Theatre, at the Bergen Music
Festival with Anne Sophie Mutter and Cecilia Bartoli, and in
a joint New Year's concert with Domingo in Shanghai.
Mezzo-soprano Cao Zheng, who also graduated
from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, was a winner at the
1993 Palm Beach Opera International Vocal Competition.
Cao was personally chosen by maestro Seiji
Ozawa to sing Beethoven's ninth Symphony for the recent
Olympic Games in Japan, and appeared with him again in the
role of Suzuki in "Madame Butterfly" for her debut
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in February 1999.
Cao has also covered roles for the World
Premiere of Lukas Foss's "Griffelkin" with the New
York City Opera.
Cao's recent projects include
Marguerite in a concert presentation of "La Damnation
de Faust" at the Saito Kinen Festival under Ozawa,
immediately followed by her debut with Michigan Opera
Theatre as Rosina in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and
Idamante in "Idomeneo" with the San Francisco