Saturday, January 05, 2013

Les Troyens in HD

Conductor...............Fabio Luisi
Production..............Francesca Zambello

We liked this picture because the right side of the dome shot, seen at the very end of the opera, is the interior of the Pantheon in Rome.  Berlioz is assigning to his characters the ability to see into the future, in this case the fact that ultimately Rome conquers Carthage.  Hector Berlioz loved Virgil's Aenead and created his own libretto for his masterpiece Les Troyens, simulcast today live from the Metropolitan Opera.

This quote from Wikipedia is interesting. "In 1969, Bärenreiter Verlag of Kassel, Germany, published a Critical Edition of Les Troyens, containing all the compositional material left by Berlioz. The preparation of this critical edition was the work of Hugh Macdonald, whose Cambridge University doctoral dissertation this was. The tendency since then has been to perform the opera complete." This in spite of the fact that earlier in the same article it says, "In this [earlier] published score, [Berlioz] introduced a number of optional cuts which have often been adopted in subsequent productions."  We liked especially the idea, not being ourselves French, that all the ballets would be cut.

It is a huge opera that can be produced only in the largest opera houses.  I think it would work to do a cut down version using only the final three acts, actually the format for the original production called Les Troyens à Carthage. Perhaps in this format we would get to see it more often.  For my taste these are the parts I enjoy; the lyricism, the love duet, the fatal love affair.  I could live without a crowd of women stabbing themselves.

Because we are living in the prime of Susan Graham, an artist of wonderful gifts, especially in the French repertoire.  This is the part we would want to see over and over.  To quote Joyce Didonato, "Berlioz and Susan Graham--a match made in heaven."

The replacement tenor who sang Énée, Bryan Hymel, was incredible.  We were definitely hoping to get to hear more of him.  He received the loudest ovation, both during the opera for his aria in Act V and at the final bows.

Kudos to everyone, especially the chorus which is in virtually every scene.

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