To conclude La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra’s year of celebrations, our Music Director, Alain Altinoglu, focuses on nineteenth-century Franco-Belgian music. The starting point, once again, is a key moment from La Monnaie’s operatic history: the premiere of Ernest Reyer’s Sigurd on our stage in 1884. This opera is Reyer’s French answer to Wagner’s Ring. It too is inspired by the legend of the Nibelungen and of the Edda. A year earlier, César Franck, Belgium’s most celebrated composer of the nineteenth century, composed his Variations symphoniques, a work of great formal ingenuity, as well as a model of melodic prowess and a perfect dialogue between piano and orchestra. The high point of this concert is undoubtedly the Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, an iconic work that in 1830 contributed greatly to the breakthrough of Romanticism. This work, which evokes the dreams, passions, and intoxications of a witches’ Sabbath, still symbolises the freedom and boundless creativity of the Romantic artist.