Greeks, Trojans, Carthaginians - what a cast! Beware of that giant wooden horse!
The vast epic masterwork Les Troyens (The Trojans) by French composer Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) will be the Metropolitan Opera simulcast this Saturday, January 5. Because with interviews and intermissions this simulcast will last 5½ hours, the matinee will begin at 12 noon.
Berlioz wrote his own libretto (script) based on the Latin epic poem Aeneid by Virgil. Berlioz believed that the integration of poetry and music was much more powerful than either art or music alone. This spectacular five-act opera includes twenty-two roles and a huge chorus and orchestra.
Part I (The Fall of Troy) includes Acts 1 and 2 and is set in and around the walls of ancient Troy. Soprano Deborah Voigt will sing the role of Cassandre (Cassandra), Trojan prophetess and daughter of Priam. The role of Chorebe (Corebus), betrothed to Cassandre, will be sung by baritone Dwayne Croft. Bass Julien Robbins will sing the role of Priam, King of Troy. Tenor Marcello Giordani will sing the role of the Trojan hero Ence (Aeneas).
Part II (The Trojans at Carthage includes Acts 3,4, and 5. Aeneas has escaped Troy and travelled to Carthage, North Africa, where he meets Didon (Dido), the widowed queen of Carthage, sung by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.
I personally have never seen a production of Les Troyens and I am looking forward to this simulcast. Because it is a massive undertaking to stage this work, Berlioz himself never saw the entire opera on stage during his lifetime.
The present Met production by Francesca Zambello was last seen during the 2003 season. Maestro Fabio Luisi will conduct the cast of stars and the large-scale musical forces.
A true composer of the Romantic period, an author of a book on orchestration and a believer in the unity of music and poetry, Berlioz was able to use the orchestra itself as a character to highlight the drama. The orchestra is large for loud warlike outbursts but can be used in small combinations for soft tender moments.
Le Troyens will be transmitted live in high definition and surround sound into selected movie theaters around the world this Saturday, January 5 as the first simulcast of 2013. It will be shown in four theaters in West Virginia: Cinemark Theater of the Huntington Mall in Barboursville; Great Escape in Nitro; Hollywood Stadium 12 in Granville/Morgantown; and Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg, as well as Cinemark Theater in Ashland, Kentucky.
Area opera lovers who are unable to attend the showing of Les Troyens on January 5 at noon, have the opportunity to see the encore performance only at the Cinemark in Huntington Mall on Wednesday, January 23, at 6:30 pm