"The Damnation as we have it, and as Berlioz himself described it, is 'an opera without decor or costumes.' It is an opera of the mind's eye performed on an ideal stage of the imagination, hardly realizable within a framework of live drama. We see it more vividly than any external visual medium could possibly depict it, except the cinema (which Berlioz seems at times to be anticipating)."---David Cairns, Berlioz, Volume Two
"As for such compositions as La Damnation de Faust, staging them reduces their imaginary dimension to a painful sham. Berlioz's visual imagination is not essentially of the kind that can be represented materially; it is, indeed, a 'vision.' "---Pierre Boulez, "Berlioz and the Realm of the Imaginary," 1969, collected in Orientations, translated by Martin Cooper
The Chicago Symphony gives two concert performances of The Damnation of Faust this week, with Susanne Mentzer, conducted by Charles Dutoit.