La Damnation de Faust
What fascinates us most about the works of Hector Berlioz today, is what irritated and repelled his contemporaries – the unrestrained proliferation of his imagination. By his very nature, he was drawn to the Faust legend, which was perceived as highly Romantic. He incorporated the “Ride to Hell”, “Chorus of the Damned” and “Marguerite’s Transfiguration” into his own Faust adaptation. He used orchestration on a grandiose scale and magnificent choral scenes to create infernal visions and spherical sounds.
However, although he dealt freely with the dramatic structure of Goethe’s poetry, he felt that it was his duty to retain the spirit of the work: our search for meaning between our lust for life, our calling and our moral standards. Berlioz’s Faust also wakes to new life with the arrival of the spring, until a warlike scene transforms his exuberance to depression. Only an Easter chorale changes his sadness to happy expectation and prepares him for Mephistopheles and his offer to show him the “true world”. After an excessive drinking session in Auerbach’s Cellar, the great tempter Mephistopheles awakens the longing in Faust for the beautiful young Marguerite. Faust’s desire becomes so strong that gives in completely to Mephistopheles’ temptation.