James Conlon conducts Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ – With Stéphanie d'Oustrac, Stéphane Degout...

Orchestre National de France and Chœur de Radio France

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Stéphanie d'Oustrac — Mary

Stéphane Degout — Joseph

François Lis — Herod

Jeremy Ovenden — The Narrator

Nahuel Di Pierro — The Father

Orchestre National de France

Chœur de Radio France

James Conlon — Conductor

Program notes

“I took a bit of paper, and I drew a few musical staffs on which a four-part andantino for organ soon appeared…”. A few notes scribbled down in passing during an evening of card games among gentlemen would ultimately give birth to a deeply moving oratorio L’Enfance du Christ (“The Childhood of Christ”). Berlioz’s score honors French 17th century music, and he even managed to pass off the choir movement he began writing that fateful evening, “L'Adieu des bergers à la Sainte Famille”, as having been written by an imaginary composer Pierre Ducré, a supposed “master of music at Paris’s Sainte-Chapelle in 1679”! The astonishing and even puzzling masterpiece retraces the life of Christ from his birth to his 30th birthday in three parts: Le songe d’Hérode (“Herod’s Dream”), La fuite en Égypte (“The Flight from Egypt”), and L’arrivée à Saïs (“The Arrival in Sais”). Premiered in 1854 with the composer himself conducting, the work has always been rarely performed. In this incredible performance led by James Conlon, the work comes to life with mezzo-soprano Stéphanie d’Oustrac as Mary and Stéphane Degout as Joseph.

A closer look: composers and works

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