L’enfance du Christ, op. 25.

1. Herod's dream 2. Flight to Egypt 3. Arrival in Sais
L'enfance du Christ is generally regarded as an oratorio, but based on various stylistic features, it might be more fortuitously described as a concert opera. As with the Damnation of Faust, this work is characterised by its drama and the duality of its philosophical outlook. Berlioz (1803-1869) himself compiled the libretto and as with Faust, supplied stage instructions as part of the score. The emphatically scenic nature of the work is particularly evident in the first section. Herrod has a dream and ask his wise men what it means. The exotic, the atmosphere and the oppressive sense of threat are all depicted through musical means. Berlioz too felt that he had composed a very powerful scene and wrote proudly to Franz Liszt: “My true work is dream with the soothsayers. Its fantastic and I hope to send it to you.” Berlioz also wrote the following about the creation of the special, archaic musical world of the work: “I experimented with a few new things. The scale, which in ecclesiastical hymns goes by some Greek name, leads to very dark harmonies and special cadences. It seemed to me that they suit the situation well.”