Inspired by Lord Byron’s narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy occupies a unique space between symphony and concerto. Technically a symphony, Harold in Italy includes a prominent part for solo viola. Indeed, the viola represents Harold as he takes in the sights and sounds of the Italian peninsular – a mountain serenade, a chorus of pilgrims, a mob of bandits. French violist Antoine Tamestit, who will be making his TSO debut in this concert, has performed the work to acclaim throughout the world.
Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri presents another traveller in an alien landscape – an Italian girl in Algiers – while French composers Fauré and Lalo take their point of departure from Gallic literature and mythology: Maeterlinck’s symbolist drama Pelléas et Mélisande and the enduring medieval legend of the lost city of Ys.