The "Prologue in Heaven" from Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele, performed by soprano Dimitra Theodossiou, mezzo-soprano Monica Minarelli, tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, tenor Mimmo Ghegghi, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, the Palermo Teatro Massimo Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and Children's Chorus, with organist Sonia Zaramella, and conducted by Stefano Ranzani, is featured on CD 3 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.
Arrigo Boito is best remembered as a very successful writer who provided Amilcare Ponchielli with texts for La Gioconda, as well as libretti for three of Giuseppe Verdi’s best-loved operas. Success as a composer, though, eluded Boito. His one completed opera, Mefistofele, based on Goethe’s Faust, was a dismal failure at its first production. It took Boito several years to rework Mefistofele into what we know it as today, an opera in four acts with a Prelude and Epilogue.
It’s the Prelude that’s most frequently performed as a stand-alone concert piece today and is always a musically thrilling experience, scored as it is for solo voices, multiple choruses including children’s choruses, large orchestra, off-stage band, organ, harps, and percussion.
In the Prologue, a heavenly chorus praises God the Creator. Mefistofele scornfully declares that he can win the soul of Faust, a challenge accepted by the Forces of Good.