Unless the decision to be implemented in next season's schedule is someday reversed, yesterday's will be the last Wednesday subscription concert the San Francisco Symphony will ever give. The main floor looked pretty full, but only 4 of the 34 seats in my balcony box were occupied. I wonder if it will ever be that empty again?
It has a couple famous excerpts, the Love Scene and the Queen Mab Scherzo, but Berlioz' Roméo et Juliette is rarely heard in full. And now I know why: it's twice as long as the Symphonie fantastique, but except for those excerpts, it's less than half as good. The other instrumental passages at least certainly sounded like Berlioz, though lacking the Fantastique's brilliant imagination, but the two long choral movements, ugh. The texts are largely dull narrative, and the settings even duller, much of them in recitative style, and only occasionally reflecting what drama there is in the text.
The work is also poorly organized. Prokofiev made the death of Tybalt the most sizzling moment of his R&J ballet; Berlioz left it out. And I didn't know he has two Queen Mab scherzos, the instrumental one and a vocal one, a lot of attention for a character with only an evanescent referential appearance in the original play.
This goes on the "I heard it, I don't ever have to listen to it again" list.