The most ambitious of all Hector Berliozs artistic endeavors, Les Troyens chronicles the events of the Trojan War and the events leading to the founding of Rome. Berlioz adapted Virgils epic poem The Aeneid as the libretto of this sprawling opera, which requires singers possessing the vocal refinement to perform the most delicate Classical music (think Gluck and Mozart) and the raw power to sing over a massive orchestra and chorus (think Wagner) in one of the worlds greatest opera houses. French grand opera finds its zenith in form and beauty in Les Troyens.
The visually striking Francesca Zambello production premiered in 2003 and has not been seen by Metropolitan Opera audiences since the premiere season. Making a welcome return to the companys repertoire, Les Troyens is led by Fabio Luisi, who conducts the full forces of the Metropolitan Opera with a steady hand.
Arguably, the Met employs the worlds finest operatic orchestra and chorus, and both ensembles shine in this stunning production because of Berliozs masterful writing and Luisis vision.
In the leading role of Didon (Dido), mezzo-soprano Susan Graham sings with radiant beauty and searing intensity as the abandoned Carthaginian queen. Met stalwart Deborah Voigt performs the dramatic role of the Cassandra, employing her gleaming soprano with intelligence and delicacy.
Replacing an ailing Marcello Giordani, American tenor Bryan Hymel performs the daunting role of Énée (Aeneas). The 2000 Met National Council Auditions finalist received rapturous applause from the audience and the cast, as well as glowing reviews in national media outlets after his Dec. 26 debut.
As an artifact of operatic history, the massive scale of Berliozs five-act masterpiece is not to be missed. For opera fanatics, Les Troyens is a must see!
When: Noon Saturday, opera chat begins at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Cost: $24 adults, $20 seniors and students