Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cultural Activity: Symphonie Fantastique

I’ve been a fan of Berlioz since I took humanities a few years ago, but I didn’t really know much about his music until recently. The whole group went to see Symphonie Fantastique at the Salle Pleyel Concert Hall tonight, and I was definitely glad we had done a little background preparation. Overall, the symphonie tells the story of a young man’s obsession with the woman he loves (the young man happened to be Berlioz). Eventually he becomes so heartsick that he takes opium (definitely the best remedy for heartache) and imagines his beloved as a witch leading him to the scaffold. Ummm…this isn’t quite what I had imagined when listening to my humanities CD.

Anyway, the symphony was probably the best one I’ve ever seen live. Before beginning Symphonie Fantastique, they performed Antony and Cleopatric, with a woman singing the operatic part. She was incredible! Apparently the entire audience agreed with the assessment, because they brought her out for at least four curtain calls. It turns out that when a French audience likes something, they don’t just do a quick standing ovation and then clear out. Instead, they clap, and clap, and clap, and clap. The clapping eventually takes on a rhythm and everyone’s hands start to tingle. I don’t really get it.

The main Symphonie was also incredible. I always love watching musicians, and I particularly enjoyed watching the violinists tonight, since they were doing all kinds of crazy plucking things with their instruments. Definitely cool. For a taste, go here.

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