SummerScape 2024 • Now through August 18

Bard Music Festival

Program Eleven • Faust and the Spirit of the 19th Century

August 18

Add to Calendar2024-08-18 3:00 pm2024-08-18 3:00 pmEDTProgram Eleven • Faust and the Spirit of the 19th CenturyFisher Center, Sosnoff Theater,
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A pinnacle of German literature, Goethe’s Faust reimagines the classic tale of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil as a complex philosophical drama. Touching on a host of Romantic themes, his retelling inspired music by some of the most important composers of the era, including Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, and Liszt.

For Berlioz, who considered Goethe one of literature’s three greatest figures, the story became an obsession. In La damnation de Faust, originally billed as an “opéra de concert,” Berlioz thought he had finally done justice to Goethe’s masterpiece. The work’s first audiences, however, felt differently. Recalling its two poorly attended, ill-received first performances, Berlioz wrote: “Nothing in all my artistic career ever wounded me so deeply as this unexpected indifference.” He could not know that, of all the musical settings of the work, his would become one of the best-loved and most highly respected. Expanding and enriching material from Huit scènes de Faust, his own earlier treatment of the same story, La damnation is now a beloved repertory staple.

Program Eleven presents the epic work in concert, with British-American tenor Joshua Blue as Faust, two-time Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as Marguerite, bass-baritone Alfred Walker as Méphistophélès, and bass Stefan Egerstrom as the student, Brander. Anchored by Botstein and the ASO, their performance draws the Bard Music Festival—and all seven weeks of Bard SummerScape—to a fittingly dramatic close.


2 pm • Preconcert Talk with Francesca Brittan
3 pm • Performance with Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Blue, tenor; Alfred Walker, bass-baritone; Stefan Egerstrom, bass; Bard Festival Chorale and James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Hector Berlioz (1803–69)

La damnation de Faust, Op. 24 (1846)


Principal Singers

Leon Botstein

Music Director, American Symphony Orchestra

James Bagwell

James Bagwell

Choral Director, Bard Festival Chorale

Joshua Blue

Joshua Blue


Sasha Cooke


Alfred Walker

Alfred Walker


Stefan Egerstrom


Francesca Brittan

Francesca Brittan

Scholar in Residence, Berlioz and His World

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