Berlioz’ Trojan War epic to be simulcast at CMC Saturday
Ryan Summerlin January 3, 2013
Hector Berlioz’ “Les Troyens” (“The Trojans”) will be the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD broadcast Saturday at the Finkel Auditorium, Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. The show starts at 10 a.m., one hour earlier than usual.
The libretto, written by the French Romantic composer Berlioz, is based on Virgil’s epic poem, “The Aeneid,” depicting the end of the Trojan War and the Trojans’ stay in Carthage.
The opera is set in two distinct parts, with Acts I and II taking place in Troy. Act I opens with a stirring choral ensemble where the citizens of Troy are gathered to celebrate their freedom from 10 years of siege by the Greeks, who have just departed. Left behind is a giant wooden horse as an offering to Athena, the mythical Greek goddess of wisdom, courage and inspiration. The Trojans decide to drag the horse into the city. Cassandra, daughter of the Trojan King Priam, expresses in both song and action a deep anxiety over her premonitions about bringing this horse into the city, but no one believes what is to come.
Cassandra is sung by Deborah Voigt. In an interview with producer Francesca Zambello, Voigt said, “I love Cassandra’s character and personality. She has dignity and pathos, and her heart is breaking for her people and what they are about to endure.”
Part II of the opera takes place in Carthage, on the Northeastern coast of Africa. Act III also opens with a stirring choral ensemble, where the people of Carthage, comprised of survivors of the destruction of Troy, are cheering their queen, Dido, who led them to the building of a flourishing new kingdom. The part of Dido is sung by Susan Graham, who in an interview with Zambello said, “I have to say that this opera, for me, is Mount Everest. There’s nothing bigger. It’s epic. The storytelling arc, the vocal arc – it’s enormous.” Her performance has been highly acclaimed in recent Associated Press reviews.
The story takes another turn when the dashing Trojan warrior, Aeneas, sung by Bryan Hymel – who is making his Met debut in place of ailing Marcello Giordani – arrives as one of the survivors of a shipwreck. Dido experiences a youthful rebirth of her feelings for Aeneas. With aspirations to found a new Troy in Italy, however, Aeneas abandons a greatly distressed Dido, with tragic consequences.
“The score in ‘Les Troyens’ ranges from the majestic to the sublime,” wrote Wilborn Hampton of the Huffington Post. “There are introspective solos, stirring ensembles, a passionate love duet, rousing choruses and intricate orchestral passages, with the always excellent Met chorus and orchestra under the exacting and fast-paced conducting of Fabio Luisi.”
Saturday’s simulcast is open to all; snacks and beverages will be served during intermissions.