Photo-VIdeo Preview of Trojan War Epic “Les Troyens” – The Met Live in HD

Susan Graham aria from Berlioz Les Troyens, Met Live in HD from Larry Murray on Vimeo.

THE MET: LIVE IN HD

Love Burns In Carthage, Destiny Calls In Rome

Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz

Beginning at noon on January 5, 2013, Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads a rare revival of Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens, based on Virgil’s Aeneid. Marcello Giordani stars as Aeneas, the Trojan hero whose adventures take him from the fall of Troy to the shores of the North African kingdom of Carthage. Deborah Voigt sings Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess who tries to warn her countrymen of the dangers about to befall them, and Susan Graham makes her Met role debut as Dido, the Carthaginian queen who gives her heart to Aeneas with disastrous consequences. The five-act epic will be seen in Francesca Zambello’s critically acclaimed 2003 production, receiving its first Met revival this season. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato hosts the transmission and conducts backstage interviews with the stars. (Running time: approximately 300 minutes, including two intermissions.)

The curtain rises on Susan Graham as Dido in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens.”

The curtain rises on Susan Graham as Dido in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens.”

Berkshire Venues

There are four locations in the Berkshires of Massachusetts (and more than a thousand worldwide) to see this transmission on January 5, 2013 at noon. They are the North Adams MoviePlex, the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.

The Mahaiwe continues its popular series of pre-opera features with Scott Eyerly’s live opera talk which begins at 10am for Les Troyens. The Mahaiwe has also scheduled its encore performance for Wednesday, January 16th at 12pm as well. Opera is very big in south county.

More on The Cast

The cast also features Julie Boulianne as Aeneas’s son, Ascanio; Karen Cargill as Dido’s devoted sister, Anna; Paul Appleby as the young sailor Hylas; Eric Cutler as Dido’s court poet, Iopas; Richard Bernstein as the Trojan priest Pantheus; Dwayne Croft as Cassandra’s fiancé, Coroebus; and Kwangchul Youn as Narbal, Dido’s trusted advisor. The Saturday, January 5 matinee performance of Les Troyens will be transmitted worldwide as part of the Met’s Live in HD series, which is now seen in more than 1,900 movie theaters in 64 countries around the world.

Fabio Luisi is only the fourth conductor in Met history to lead Les Troyens, which had its Met premiere in 1973 under the baton of Rafael Kubelik and has also been led by John Nelson and Met Music Director James Levine. This season at the Met, Luisi also conducts the new production of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, a revival of Verdi’s Aida, and three complete cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. His past Met performances include Verdi’s Don Carlo, Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto, and La Traviata; Richard Strauss’s Die Ägyptische Helena, Elektra, and Ariadne auf Naxos; Puccini’s Turandot, Tosca, and La Bohème; Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni; Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel; Berg’s Lulu; and Massenet’s Manon.

Marcello Giordani’s numerous Met appearances include two major Berlioz roles, the title character in the Met premiere of Benvenuto Cellini and Faust in the 2008 new production premiere of La Damnation de Faust. He made his Met debut in 1995 as Rodolfo in La Bohème and has since sung more than 200 performances of 24 roles, most frequently Rodolfo, Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Alfredo in La Traviata, Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra, Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera, the title role in Verdi’s Ernani, and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Earlier this season, he sang Calàf in Turandot, and this spring he will sing Paolo in Zandonai’s rarely heard masterpiece Francesca da Rimini. In 2008, he sang Aeneas with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Met Music Director James Levine, in a cast that also included Eric Cutler, Dwayne Croft, and Kwangchul Youn in the roles they sing in this season’s performances.

Deborah Voigt in an Act I excerpt from Berlioz Les Troyens – Met Opera from Larry Murray on Vimeo.

Deborah Voigt starred as Cassandra in the 2003 premiere of Zambello’s production. She has sung more than 230 performances with the Met in a varied repertory that encompasses major Wagner roles, including Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer, Elsa in Lohengrin, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, and Isolde in Tristan und Isolde; Richard Strauss roles, such as the title characters in Die Ägyptische Helena and Ariadne auf Naxos, the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Chrysothemis in Elektra; and Verdi heroines like Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, and the title role in Aida. This spring, Voigt will reprise her Brünnhilde in two complete Ring cycles conducted by Luisi.

Susan Graham. Photo: Cory Weaver.

Susan Graham. Photo: Cory Weaver.

Susan Graham’s 140 performances with the Met include Marguerite in the new production premiere of La Damnation de Faust and Ascanius in a 1993 staging of Les Troyens. Her Met repertory includes Octavian in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, which she has sung 25 times with the company, and the Composer in his Ariadne auf Naxos; the title role in the new production premiere of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride; Mozart’s Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Idamante in Idomeneo, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro; the title role in Lehár’s The Merry Widow; and Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther. She has also starred in two world premieres at the Met, singing Jordan Baker in Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Sondra Finchley in Picker’s An American Tragedy, also directed by Zambello. She sang Dido at the Châtelet in Paris in a series of performances that were recorded for DVD.

Julie Boulianne made her Met debut in 2011, singing both Diane in Iphigénie en Tauride and Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Later this season, she makes her Met role debut as Siébel in Gounod’s Faust.

Karen Cargill made her Met debut last season as Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, a role she will repeat in all three of this spring’s Ring cycles.

Paul Appleby. Photo: Ken Howard.

Paul Appleby. Photo: Ken Howard.

Paul Appleby, a graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, made his Met debut as Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos in 2011 and returned last season to sing Demetrius in the world premiere of the Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island. Later this season, he sings the Chevalier de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites.

Eric Cutler, also a Lindemann graduate, has sung more than 60 performances in 10 roles at the Met, most recently the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Arturo in Bellini’s I Puritani, and Léopold in the new production premiere of Halévy’s La Juive.

Dwayne Croft sang Coroebus opposite Voigt’s Cassandra in the 2003 new production premiere of Les Troyens. This season at the Met, he also sings Ping in Turandot, Rambaldo in Puccini’s La Rondine, and Donner in Der Ring des Nibelungen. His past performances with the company have included Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Pelléas in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and the title roles in Don Giovanni and Britten’s Billy Budd.

Richard Bernstein has sung more than 250 Met performances in a wide variety of roles. This season, he also sings Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen, Wagner in Faust, and Commissioner 2 in Dialogues des Carmélites.

Kwangchul Youn, who sings both Narbal and Mercury in this season’s performances of Les Troyens, most recently appeared at the Met as Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. His other Met roles include Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, King Marke in Tristan und Isolde, and Ferrando in Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

A scene from the Met's Les Troyens. Taken during the Dec. 6 2012 rehearsal by Cory Weaver.

A scene from the Met’s Les Troyens. Taken during the Dec. 6 2012 rehearsal by Cory Weaver.

Synopsis of Les Troyens

Performed with two intermissions.

PART I

Acts I and II In and around the Walls of Troy

Intermission

PART II

Acts III and IV Dido’s Court

Intermission

Act V The Trojan encampment at the harbor

Act I
After ten years of siege, the Greeks have departed from Troy, leaving behind a giant wooden horse as an offering to Pallas Athena. Only the prophetess Cassandra, daughter of the Trojan king Priam, wonders about the significance of their enemies’ disappearance. In a vision, she has seen her dead brother Hector’s ghost walking the ramparts. She has tried to warn her father of impending disaster and now urges her fiancé, Coroebus, to flee the city, but neither man will listen to her. When Coroebus begs her to join the peace celebrations, she tells him that she foresees death for both of them.

The Trojans offer thanks to the gods. Hector’s widow Andromache brings her young son, the heir to the throne, before King Priam and Queen Hecuba. The warrior Aeneas arrives and reports that the priest Laocoön is dead. Suspecting the wooden horse to be some kind of a trick, Laocoön had thrown his spear at it and urged the crowd to set fire to it, when two giant sea serpents appeared and devoured him and his two sons. Priam and Aeneas order the horse to be brought into the city to beg pardon of Athena. Cassandra realizes that this will be the end of Troy.

Act II
Aeneas is visited by the ghost of Hector, who tells him to escape the city. His destiny, he says, is to found a new empire that someday will rule the world. As the ghost disappears, Aeneas’s friend Panthus runs in with news that the Greek soldiers who emerged from the horse are destroying the city. Aeneas rushes off to lead the defense.
The Trojan women pray for deliverance from the invaders. Cassandra prophesizes that Aeneas and some of the Trojans will escape to Italy to build a city—a new Troy. Coroebus has fallen, and Cassandra prepares for her own death. She asks the women if they will submit to rape and enslavement. When Greek soldiers enter, the women collectively commit suicide. Aeneas and his men escape with the treasures of Troy.

The Met's Les Troyens.

The Met’s Les Troyens.

Act III
Carthage, North Africa. The people greet their queen, Dido. In the seven years since they fled their native Tyre following the murder of Dido’s husband, they have built a flourishing new kingdom. Dido’s sister Anna suggests that Carthage needs a king and assures her sister that she will love again. Visitors are announced who have narrowly escaped shipwreck in a recent storm—they are the remaining survivors of the Trojan army, with Aeneas among them. Dido welcomes them. When news arrives that the Numidian ruler, Iarbas, is about to attack Carthage, Aeneas identifies himself and offers to fight alongside the Carthaginians. Dido accepts, and Aeneas rallies the united forces of Carthage and Troy, entrusting his son, Ascanius, to the queen’s care.

Act IV
Aeneas has returned victorious to Carthage. During a royal hunt, he and Dido seek shelter from a storm in a cave. They discover their love for each other.
It is several months later. Narbal, the queen’s adviser, is worried that since Dido fell in love with Aeneas, she has been neglecting her duties. He fears that in welcoming the Trojan strangers, Carthage has invited its own doom. Dido enters with Aeneas and her court to watch an entertainment of singing and dancing. She asks Aeneas to tell her more about Troy’s last days. When he talks about Andromache, Hector’s widow, who married Pyrrhus, one of the enemy, Dido sees a parallel to her own situation. Alone, she and Aeneas again proclaim their love, as the god Mercury reminds Aeneas of his duty and destination—Italy.

The Met's Les Troyens.

The Met’s Les Troyens.

Act V
At night in the Trojan camp by the harbor, a young sailor sings a homesick ballad. Panthus and the Trojan captains are worried about omens and apparitions that remind them of their failure to move on. Aeneas enters, torn between his love for Dido and his duty to leave Carthage. He makes up his mind to see the queen one last time. But when the ghosts of Priam, Hector, Coroebus, and Cassandra appear, urging him to leave, he orders his men to set sail before sunrise. Dido appears. Aeneas swears that he loves her but must leave her. She curses him. As dawn breaks, the queen asks her sister to persuade Aeneas to stay, but the Trojan ships are already on their way out to sea. Furious, Dido orders a pyre built to burn his gifts and remembrances of their love. Now resolved to end her life, she bids farewell to Carthage and everything she held dear.

The pyre has been set up. Priests pray for Dido, who predicts that her fate will be remembered: a future Carthaginian general, Hannibal, will avenge her against Italy one day. Then she stabs herself with Aeneas’s sword. Dying, she has a vision of Carthage destroyed by eternal Rome. As the Roman Capitol is seen like an apparition in the distance, the Carthaginians curse Aeneas and his descendants.

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