Berlioz's Monumental 'Les Troyens' Is Your Saturday at the Opera Broadcast

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Lucas Meachem as Chorèbe and Susan Graham as Didon in Berlioz's 'Les Troyens'

On Saturday at 1pm, soak in the epic nature of Hector Berlioz’s crowning achievement, Les Troyens. The sprawling story, told over five acts, was the culmination of Virgil’s epic poem that had fascinated the composer since his earliest days. As a boy, Berlioz studied Virgil with his father, and The Aeneid had an indelible impact on his imagination.

Years later, Berlioz revisited the story. His musical ideas germinated and grew into plans for a Grand Opera. His motivation was largely intrinsic; the negative reception for his Benvenuto Cellini harmed his reputation in the opera world, and as David Cairns points out in his liners for a recording by Sir Colin Davis and the Orchestra and Chorus of Covent Garden, “no commission called [the opera] into being.” Still, Berlioz pressed forward, knowing very well that, production-wise, the opera had no certain future. That he worked on the Les Troyens while battling a painful intestinal disease makes the opera’s two-year completion time all the more impressive.

Cast:

Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis

Cassandre: Christine Goerke

Didon: Susan Graham

Énée: Brandon Jovanovich

Chorèbe: Lucas Meachem

Narbal: Christian Van Horn

Anna: Okka von der Damerau