Event Description

Saturday, May 18, 2019―7:00 pm
Sunday, May. 19, 2019―4:00 pm

In honor of the 150 year anniversary of Hector Berlioz, our Season Finale takes on his work in a grand epic of his most celebrated compositions!

This afternoon of great music begins when Maestro Figueroa hands over the baton to Concertmaster David Felberg and takes up his “Figueroa Strad” to perform Berlioz’s masterful Rêverie et Caprice, op.8, for Violin and Orchestra.

Then, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Robinson, praised for her “darkly pretty voice,” joins us for a performance of Berlioz’s lush and dramatic La mort de Cléopâtr

And finally, Berlioz’s most celebrated work, Symphonie fantastique. Written for large orchestra when he was just 26 years old and already famous, this brilliant piece premiered in Paris on December 5, 1830, and won him a reputation as one of the most progressive composers of the era. Through its movements, it tells the story of an artist’s self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman. The symphony describes his obsession and dreams, tantrums and moments of tenderness, and visions of suicide and murder, ecstasy and despair.

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Concert Notes

Rêverie et Caprice, Opus 8
Born December 11, 1803, Grenoble, France
Died March 8, 1869, Paris, France

Allegro vivace

Berlioz had high hopes for his first opera, Benvenuto Cellini, based on the life of that celebrated goldsmith, sculptor, musician, soldier, lover, duellist, rogue, adventurer, and autobiographer. But the opera was a crashing failure at its premiere in Paris in September 1838. Benvenuto Cellini ran for only three performances, Parisian audiences sneered at it as “Malvenuto Cellini,” and Berlioz noted (with typical detachment) that after the overture “the rest was hissed with admirable energy and unanimity.”

Cléopâtre: Scène lyrique

Allegro vivace con impeto – Récit. C’en est donc fait!
Lento cantabile. Ah! qu’ils sont loin ces jours, tourment de ma mémoire
Méditation. Largo misterioso. Grands Pharaons, nobles Lagides
Allegro assai agitato. Non! … non, de vos demeures funèbres  

Berlioz arrived in Paris in 1821, conflicted about his future. His father, a physician, wanted him to become a doctor, and the young man obediently spent two years in medical school. But his love for music proved too strong, and in 1826 Berlioz entered the Paris Conservatory. Anxious to prove that he had made the right decision, he quickly entered the school’s competition to win the Prix de Rome. This was the most coveted achievement for young French composers, carrying with it a five-year stipend as well as the requirement that the winner spend at least two years of study at the Villa Medici in Rome. One of the principal conditions of the competition was that each contestant compose what Berlioz described as “a serious lyrical scene for one or two voices and orchestra” on a text provided by the Conservatory. It took the fiery young composer four tries to win the Prix de Rome. His first effort, La mort d’Ophelie (1827), won nothing, while Herminie (1828) was awarded second place. But his third attempt, La mort de Cléopâtre (1829) won nothing at all—it was judged too daring by the competition’s conservative judges. Berlioz toned down his manner somewhat for his fourth attempt, Sardanapale, and this finally won for him the Prix de Rome in 1830.


Symphonie fantastique, op.14

It is impossible for modern audiences to understand how revolutionary Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique was when it burst upon surprised listeners 168 years ago. The music has become so over-familiar that we forget how it represented not only a brilliant new use of the orchestra but also an entirely new conception of the role of the composer. For Berlioz subtitled this symphony “Episode in the Life of an Artist” and based it on details of his own life. And what made the symphony so sensational was that these autobiographical details were so lurid, private, and painful. No longer was music an abstract art, at some distance from the psyche of its maker.  When Berlioz created the nightmare journey of the Symphonie fantastique out of his own internal fury, the art of music was all at once propelled into a new era.


Rebecca Robinson Mezzo-Soprano

Rebecca Robinson recently completed the Professional Certificate program at the University of Colorado–Boulder where she was seen in Eklund Opera productions as the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella), Ottone in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, as well as in recital with the world-renowned Takács Quartet.  She was awarded 3rd place in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition in 2016, and named a finalist in the Bruce Ekstrand Competition, which recognizes and awards development grants to promising graduate students. After two busy and successful years at CU, Rebecca decided to call these mountains home and is now based in Denver, CO.

Principal Conductor Guillermo Figueroa

One of the most versatile and respected musical artists of his generation—renowned as conductor, violinist, violist, and concertmaster—Guillermo Figueroa is the Principal Conductor of The Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. He also serves as the Music Director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, Music Director of the Lynn Philharmonia in Florida, and is the founder of the highly acclaimed Figueroa Music and Arts Project in Albuquerque. Additionally, he was the Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Puerto Rico Symphony. With this last orchestra, he performed to critical acclaim at Carnegie Hall in 2003, the Kennedy Center in 2004, and Spain in 2005.

& Musicians

Principal Conductor

Guillermo Figueroa


Rebecca Robinson


David Felberg

Meet The Composers