Gen. Admission


About the Event

Join us for a pre-performance talk on La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz. This remarkable opera - or “legend”, as Berlioz named it - is an adaptation of Goethe’s work by the composer, based on Gérard de Nerval’s translation. Berlioz’s libretto differs significantly in its structure from Goethe’s text, and was inspired by the composer’s travels through Germany, Austria, and Hungary.

Despite the disappointing attendance at the first performances, Berlioz regarded La Damnation as “one of the best works [he] had ever produced”, and time certainly proved him right. It has been part of the BSO’s repertoire since 1934.

Come hear from Professor Thomas Forrest Kelly from Harvard University, expert on Berlioz, and Esther Nelson, General and Artistic Director of the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO). The discussion will be moderated by Benjamin Capellari, musicologist and composer, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris.

For more information about the concerts, please visit the BSO website.

About the Panelists

Thomas Forrest Kelly is Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University. He teaches a class at Harvard on Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Program Music in the 19th Century. Before arriving at Harvard, he taught at Oberlin Conservatory (where he served as acting Dean of the Conservatory), at the Five Colleges in Massachusetts; and at Wellesley College from 1972-1979.

Professor Kelly was born in Greensboro, NC in 1943. He attended Groton School, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (A. B. 1964). Two years in France on a Fulbright grant allowed him to study organ at the Schola Cantorum in Paris (diplôme de virtuosité 1966) and the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM 1964). His graduate study was at Harvard (A. M. 1970, PhD 1973).

His most recent book is Capturing Music (Norton, 2015); he is the author of First Nights: Five Performance Premieres (Yale, translated into Korean and Chinese), and Early Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, translated into German and Hungarian). His book The Beneventan Chant (Cambridge) was awarded the Otto Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society for the most distinguished work of musicological scholarship of 1989.

He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the French Republic and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy in Rome. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017. He is an honorary citizen of the city of Benevento (Italy).

Esther Nelson combines an extensive career in the arts with significant management expertise. Prior to joining Boston Lyric Opera in September 2008, Ms. Nelson was a management consultant for a broad range of clients that included the New York Historical Association, research library, and associated Fenimore Art Museum, NY; the Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown, NY; the European International Music and Arts Foundation; the Cultural Diplomacy Institute, NY, Berlin, DE; Albany Symphony Orchestra, NY; The Douglas Moore Fund, NYC; the Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta, NY; Portland Opera, ME; Opera Memphis, TN; Virginia Opera, VA; and The National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Nelson was until the fall of 2002 the General Director/CEO of Glimmerglass Opera, NY, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious opera festivals. During her seven year tenure, the company experienced significant artistic growth and fiscal stability, including the elimination of its accumulated deficit and development of a surplus. Her leadership earned her a professional citation from the governor of New York. Before coming to Glimmerglass, Ms. Nelson was the General Director/CEO of Nevada Opera in Reno, NV, where she was responsible for all administrative and artistic activities and founded the company’s successful state-wide touring program. During her tenure the company also experienced financial and artistic growth. Born to an American father and a German mother, Ms. Nelson was educated in Germany, England, and France, where she studied art, music, theater, and business. She graduated with a degree in Communication from Kaiserslautern, Germany, before coming to the U.S. in 1979.

About the Moderator

A native of France, Benjamin Capellari is a graduate of the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, the École Normale Supérieure, the Sorbonne and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Educated as a generalist throughout his academic career, he strives to find crossroads between varying fields and perspectives, intertwining geography, arts, musicology, and ancient and modern languages. Uniting his interests between philosophy and classics, and his musical work as a composer, his research interests led him to work on Greek music with the École française d’Athènes. He previously taught French language, literature and culture in Europe (University of Bristol) and the United States (Smith College, George Washington University, American University).


This event is presented in cooperation with the Goethe Institut and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

NATIXIS_RGB_GAM_10CM MosaiqueCharter1Web_Logo Rose-Noir ss Fund
This event is made possible thanks in part to Natixis Global Asset Management and the Mosaïque Cultural Fund. NATIXIS_RGB_GAM_10CM MosaiqueCharter1Web_Logo Rose-Noir ss Fund

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