OPERA NEWS - Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Les Troyens
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Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Les Troyens 

Radio Broadcast and Live in HD transmission of Saturday, January 5, 12 Noon

Broadcast Troyens HDL 113
Scenes from Francesca Zambello's Met production of Les Troyens, designed by Maria Bjørnson: as Cassandre (Voigt) bemoans the coming destruction of Troy, the Trojan Horse is wheeled toward the city
© Beth Bergman 2013
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Les Troyens

Music by Hector Berlioz
Libretto by the composer, based on Virgil's Aeneid 
THE CAST     (in order of vocal appearance)
     PART I: La Prise de Troie
Trojan Soldier     baritone, TROY COOK
Cassandre     soprano, DEBORAH VOIGT
Chorèbe     baritone, DWAYNE CROFT
Andromaque     mime, JACQUELINE
Énée     tenor, BRYAN HYMEL
Hélénus     tenor, EDUARDO VALDES
Ascagne     mezzo, JULIE BOULIANNE
Hécube     mezzo, THEODORA HANSLOWE
Panthée     bass, RICHARD BERNSTEIN
Priam     bass, JULIEN ROBBINS
     PART II: Les Troyens à Carthage
Didon     mezzo, SUSAN GRAHAM
Anna     mezzo, KAREN CARGILL
Iopas     tenor, ERIC CUTLER
Narbal     bass, KWANGCHUL YOUN
Mercure     bass, KWANGCHUL YOUN
Hylas     tenor, PAUL APPLEBY 
1st Soldier     bass, PAUL CORONA
2nd Soldier     bass-bar., JAMES COURTNEY
Ghost of Priam     bass, JULIEN ROBBINS
Ghost of Chorèbe     bar., DWAYNE CROFT
Ghost of Cassandre mezzo, EDYTA KULCZAK
Ghost of Hector     bass-baritone, DAVID

Conducted by FABIO LUISI

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Francesca Zambello
Set designer: Maria Bjørnson
Costume designer: Anita Yavich
Lighting designer: James F. Ingalls
Choreographer: Doug Varone
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Denise Massé,
     Carrie-Ann Matheson, Jonathan Kelly,
     Natalia Katyukova, Alexander Bülow
Assistant stage directors: Sara Erde,
     Gregory Keller, Peter McClintock
Prompter: Carrie-Ann Matheson
Stage band conductor: Gregory Buchalter
Production a gift of the Estate of Francis Goelet,
     Mr. and Mrs. Ezra K. Zilkha, Mercedes and
     Sid Bass, the Edgar Foster Daniels Foundation,
     Mr. and Mrs. William R. Miller, and Mr.
     and Mrs. Paul M. Montrone

Additional funding from The Annenberg
     Foundation, Gilbert S. Kahn and John J.
     Noffo Kahn, and the National Endowment
     for the Arts

THE SCENES  Timings (ET) 
PART ILa Prise de Troie  
 (The Fall of Troy) 
ACTS I and II 12:00–1:37
 In and around the walls of
PART IILes Troyens à Carthage  
 (The Trojans at Carthage) 
ACTS III and IV 2:15-3:55
 Didon's court4:32–5:30
ACT IVThe Trojan encampment at
the harbor

Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
     William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
     Elena Park

Directed for Live Cinema by:
     Barbara Willis Sweete
HD host: Joyce DiDonato

For more information on the broadcasts,
     please visit www.operainfo.org.

Send quiz questions to:
     Metropolitan Opera Quiz
     Metropolitan Opera
     30 Lincoln Center
     New York, NY 10023
     or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.

This performance is also being broadcast live
     on Metropolitan Opera Radio on
     SiriusXM channel 74.
This performance will be transmitted live, in high definition and surround sound, 
into selected movie theaters, and will be shared with students in more than 100 U.S. schools
as part of The Met HD Live in Schools program. 
For information on tickets, visit www.metopera.org/hdlive
Broadcast Troyens lg 113
Deborah Voigt, above, as the specter of
Cassandre; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Ben
Heppner, below, as Didon and Énée in Les
at the Metropolitan Opera

© Johan Elbers 2013

ACTS I and II. At the city wall, the Trojans rejoice at the Greeks' withdrawal after a long siege. Told of a huge wooden horse left by the Greeks, they rush off to see it.

Outside the wall, Cassandre grimly recounts a vision of Hector, foretelling disaster. She laments Priam's shortsightedness, saying she will not live to marry Chorèbe, who begs her to enjoy Troy's triumph. She predicts Trojan blood running in the streets. Heedless of her advice to flee, Chorèbe leads her back to the city.

Before the citadel, the Trojans hail victory. Andromaque, Hector's widow, enters with her son, Astyanax. The people feel again the loss of Hector. Énée enters, crying that Laocoön has hurled his javelin against the horse, suspecting a Greek trick. When Laocoön urged the people to burn it, two serpents rose from the sea and devoured him. Cassandre sees this as fulfilling her fears, but Énée and Priam see it as the gods' punishment for suggesting desecration of a sacred object. They plan to have the horse brought to the citadel.

Alone, Cassandre envisions death. Pushing the horse, the people of Troy pass by. Cassandre gloomily follows the others.

That night, Énée is awakened by Hector's ghost, saying the Greeks hidden in the horse have won Troy. He orders Énée to flee to Italy, where he will found an empire that will rule the world. Joining Chorèbe, Énée leaves to try to save the citadel.

In the Temple of Vesta, Trojan women bewail their imminent capture. Cassandre inspires them to choose suicide over slavery and calls forth the shades of Troy as witness. When the Greeks arrive, the women stab themselves and die crying "Italie!"

ACTS III and IV. Didon's people celebrate their prosperity. Didon hails seven years of peace and asks the people to fight fearlessly against future enemies. Builders, sailors and farmers pass by in procession. Alone with her sister Anna, she seems suddenly sad. Anna suggests that she remarry, but Didon is unwilling to forget her dead husband. Iopas informs the queen that a fleet of strangers has been washed ashore. Didon hears from Ascagne, Énée's son, that they are Trojans en route to Italy. Narbal warns the queen that the Numidians, led by Iarbas, are advancing on Carthage. Énée steps before the queen and volunteers to lead his men with hers against Iarbas.

Royal Hunt and Storm: some time later, in a sylvan glade, naiads bathe in a pool. Horses of the hunt frighten them as they pass. A storm grows. Didon and Énée take refuge in a cave, where their love is consummated. Satyrs and fauns dance.

In a garden, Narbal frets about Énée's call to Italy, but Anna sees only joy in the lovers' pleasure.

Didon and Énée are celebrated by the people, then by Iopas, who hails the goddess of the harvest. Énée shocks Didon with a tale of Andromaque's marriage to the son of her husband's slayer. All unite in a paean to happiness and peace. Alone in the moonlight, the lovers sing of their ecstasy, but Mercure, the gods' messenger, solemnly appears and proclaims "Italie!" three times. 

Broadcast Troyens hdl 2 113
The death of Didon (Hunt Lieberson)
© Johan Elbers 2013

ACT V. The Trojan fleet lies at anchor. Hylas, a sailor, sings a song of homesickness. Trojan chiefs arrive, demanding to leave after having seen Hector's ghost. Énée appears, resigning himself to fate but resolved not to leave Didon without a last farewell. Didon rushes in. Failing to overcome his resolve, she curses him as the ships sail. Didon prepares for death.

The queen bids Carthage a sad farewell. The people dash in and pronounce ritual curses on Énée. Didon climbs the pyre built to burn what the Trojans left behind, embraces Énée's armor and stabs herself with his dagger. She foretells Hannibal as the future Carthaginian conqueror, but her last vision is of invincible Rome.

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Cassandre and her suitor, Chorèbe (Voigt, Dwayne Croft)
© Beatriz Schiller 2013


Berlioz was long dismissed as a clever orchestrator, Les Troyens as an impossibly long opera with occasional glimmers of inspiration. The epic was his third dramatic work, following La Damnation de Faust (1829) and Benvenuto Cellini (1838). Unsuccessful as a composer, he earned his living as a music critic and librarian of the Paris Conservatory until his death in 1869.

Berlioz completed the words and music for Les Troyens in only two years (1856–58). Rejected by Paris's Opéra, it received half a premiere when Part II was given at the Théâtre Lyrique on November 4, 1863. The opera was not given in its entirety until September 17, 1969, at Covent Garden.

Rafael Kubelik conducted the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Les Troyens on October 22, 1973, with Jon Vickers as Énée in a production by Nathaniel Merrill. Shirley Verrett sang both Cassandre and Didon, taking over the latter role at the dress rehearsal due to the indisposition of Christa Ludwig. Ten years later, the Met opened its centennial season with a notable revival of Merrill's staging, conducted by James Levine, with Plácido Domingo (Énée), Tatiana Troyanos (Didon) and Jessye Norman (Cassandre). 

The Met's current production, by Francesca Zambello, had its first night on February 10, 2003, with Levine pacing Ben Heppner (Énée), Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Didon) and Deborah Voigt (Cassandre).

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Didon and her lover, Énée (Hunt Lieberson, Heppner)
© Johan Elbers 2013


The essential Les Troyens library begins with The Iliad and The Aeneid, both easily available in English. Robert Fagles's blank-verse rendering of The Aeneid is highly readable, as is his translation of The Iliad. David Cairns's two-volume life of Berlioz (University of California) is superb, as is Cairns's translation of the composer's Memoirs (Everyman's Library).

The best recording remains Colin Davis's epic Philips set from 1969, with Jon Vickers as Énée and Josephine Veasey as Didon. Vickers also stars in a live capture of John Gielgud's 1957 English-language production from Covent Garden (Testament), led by Rafael Kubelik; Vickers's Didon is Blanche Thebom. More worthy competition to the 1969 Davis Troyens is the performance led by Charles Dutoit (Decca), with Deborah Voigt as Cassandre, as is Davis's second recording, made in 2000 with the LSO (LSO Live).

The current DVD of choice is Yannis Kokkos's 2003 staging from the Théâtre du Châtelet, with John Eliot Gardiner pacing Susan Graham and Anna Caterina Antonacci as Didon and Cassandre (Opus Arte). James Levine conducts Plácido Domingo, Jessye Norman and Tatiana Troyanos, all in excellent form, in a 1983 telecast of the Met's previous Troyens staging (DG). spacer 

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