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Boulanger Faust et Hélène

At nineteen years old, Lili Boulanger became the first woman to win the prestigious Prix de Rome with her cantata, Faust et Hélène. In this concert video it is performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and three vocal soloists, led by Conductor Laureate Alan Gilbert. Recording from April 2019.

The action in Faust et Hélène is based on a text by dramatist and librettist Eugène Adénis, who was inspired in turn by Goethe’s Faust. This late-romantic dramatic music conveys the evocative story of the scholar Faust, who is helped by Mephistopheles, to awaken the beautiful Hélène from antiquity. The consequences are fateful.

Lili Boulanger’s musical talent was exceptional. After hearing Faust et Hélène, Debussy wrote in Revue Musicale: “...she is only 19 years old. But her skill at composing music is much greater!” 

Lili Boulanger suffered from Crohn’s disease and she died at just 24 years old. She dedicated the cantata to her older sister Nadia Boulanger, who was also a composer, but who was primarily known as one of the twentieth century’s most influential teachers. In 2015, Konserthuset Stockholm dedicated its annual international composer festival to the Boulanger sisters.

  • The music

  • Lili Boulanger Faust et Hélène
  • Participants

  • Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Alan Gilbert conductor
  • Katarina Dalayman mezzo soprano
  • Samuel Sakker tenor
  • Benedict Nelson baritone
  • Filmed in April 2019.
  • The video is approximately 31 minutes.