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The Stars of the White Nights 2021
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07 May 2019 (Tue), 18:00 World famous Mariinsky Ballet and Opera - Mariinsky II (New Theatre) - Opera Hector Berlioz "Les Troyens" (grand opera in 5 acts)

Running time: 5 hours 5 minutes (till 23:05)

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for Hector Berlioz "Les Troyens" (grand opera in 5 acts) 2021

Conductor: Christian Knapp
Tenor: Mikhail Vekua

Composer: Hector Berlioz
Principal Chorus Master: Andrei Petrenko
Musical Preparation: Natalia Mordashova
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Stage Director: Carlus Padrissa
Set Designer: Roland Olbeter
Cinematographer: Franc Aleu
Lighting Designer: Peter van Praet
Costume Designer: Chu Uroz
Choreography: Emil Faski
Costume Designer: Yannis Kokkos
Lighting Designer: Vinicio Cheli

Orchestra: Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Opera company: Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera

opera in concert in 5 acts

Performed in French with synchronised Russian supertitles

World premiere: 6 December 1890, Großherzogliches Hoftheater, Karlsruhe
Premiere of this production: 28 May 2014, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia

Les Troyens is a tour de force of music that ranges from fiery military marches to intense choruses, passionate soliloquies – such as those of the prophetess Cassandre – and the lyrical love duets of Didon and Énée. It is Hector Berlioz's largest work and he wrote the libretto himself, drawing upon his intimate knowledge of Virgil's Aeneid. To the composer's disappointment, Les Troyens was only performed once in full during his lifetime. It was often presented in shortened form during the 20th century. The Royal Opera's production provides a rare chance to see this epic work in its entirety.

Production by La Fura dels Baus
Co-production with the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (Valencia) and Poland's Opera Narodowa

Epic opera duologue

Libretto by the composer after motifs from Virgil's Aeneid

Interview with Carlus Padrissa (Stage director)


Les Troyens is an absolutely immense opera. How do you plan to retain the audience's attention for such a long time?
Les Troyens lasts over five hours. The score and the libretto for the opera are amazingly interesting. In the first part, we learn of the terrible story of a civilisation's self-destruction, and in the second there is a description of people resting in a foreign land, while in the third they resolve to set out and discover a place where they can build their world afresh. I think that the opera is a space where the concept of time disappears if the production is able to touch the depths of our souls. It is something that we are duty bound to attempt to do.

Do you see parallels in the plot of Les Troyens with the problems of life today?
A great many. In our version, the Trojans are viruses that get to the heart of an operating system, destroying all the information stored there. That is the description of the Trojan virus that can be found in every search engine on the Internet. According to the concept for the production, a "Trojan virus" is being carried by the characters themselves, and its effect can lead to disastrous consequences. In the second part of the production the heroes, who have suffered amnesia because of the virus, are regaining their health in Carthage, a world of pleasures. It is a true sensual paradise with the sea, the beach, the palm trees as well as a strong and emergent power that is carrying out an environmental study. It is, moreover, a society where well organised groups and professional unions serve public wellbeing. But, ultimately, despite the hospitality of the people of Carthage, the protagonists once again set out on a journey. They take their places in a spacecraft in order to set out for the distant planet of Mars and build a new civilisation there.

What does Berlioz' work mean for you, in particular his opera music?
Berlioz' music comes from a very rich cultural tradition. The opera Les Troyens is not staged so very often, despite all its rich content. I like the opera's choral scenes, its orchestration, the unexpected contrasts that create a "zapping" effect ("zapping" – switching from one channel to another using a remote control). The music in the opera is enchanting. The contrast between the sung choruses and arias and the declamatory recitatives that are accompanied by expressive orchestral counterpoint build truly tense musical and dramatic action.

Does your experience in cinematography help you at all in your work on operas? Will you be using any cinematographic techniques in the production?
The concept "cinematographer" appeared over one hundred years ago, and, ever since, many talented directors have left opera for cinema. Instead of new opera houses, cinemas were opened. But today we understand that cinema, however interesting it is, will always be a "copy" of a theatre production. It does not have all the same possibilities of interacting with the public, while an opera is a live performance that changes every day depending on the inspiration and the mood of the public.
Using cinematographic techniques and video installations in opera, we can bring it closer to other forms of modern art, such as "performance". The time is already here for a union between cinema and opera, and this union brings with it many new possibilities. One of the most impressive results to be found on this path can be seen in the virtual scenes of light in the production of Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia.


Part 1 
The Capture of Troy 
Act I 
After ten years of a failed siege of the city of Troy the Greeks are abandoning their camp. The Trojans celebrate their victory on the vacated site. They see a giant wooden horse left by the Greeks, which they regard as a gift to be presented to Pallas Athene. Cassandre, daughter of King Priam of Troy, foresees the fall of Troy and the death of her beloved Chorèbe. Cassandre tries to persuade him to flee from Troy. Chorèbe, however, does not believe her predictions. 
The people come together in a hymn of praise to the gods of Olympus for the salvation of Troy; Queen Hécube and Priam himself appear. Amidst the general rejoicing Hector’s widow Andromaque, together with her son Astyanax, gives vent to her implacable grief for her warrior husband. Énée rushes in and relates that the priest Laocoön, who called on the Trojans to burn the wooden horse, has been swallowed up by sea-serpents. This is seen as the wrath of the goddess Athena, enraged at the priest’s blasphemy. Then Priam, ignoring Cassandre’s protests, orders the horse be brought into Troy. The Trojans triumphantly carry the statue towards the city. In despair, Cassandre observes the procession.

Act II 
The ghost of the murdered Hector appears to the sleeping Énée. He has foreseen the destruction of Troy, and orders Énée to flee the city and travel to Italy where he is to establish a new Troy – Rome. Meanwhile, the Greeks invade the city. The Trojans are prepared to die, but will never surrender to the enemy. Énée and a group of warriors, seizing the treasures of King Priam, flee from blazing Troy. Cassandre prophesies that Énée will become the founder of a new city. Knowing that Chorèbe is dead, Cassandre cries out “Italy! Italy!” and curses her own self in order to escape Greek enslavement. The other women follow her example.

Part 2 
The Trojans in Carthage 
Act III 
Queen Didon of Carthage, remaining loyal to the memory of her late husband Sichée, does not wish to marry the Numidian King Iarbas who desires her favour. The Carthaginians swear devotion to Didon and are prepared to protect her from the Numidian’s solicitations. Representatives of various professions – builders, sailors and peasant farmers – are presented to the Queen in turn. 
At the end of the triumphant ceremony, Didon is talking with her sister Anna, who convinces her to forsake her fidelity to Sichée and free her heart to find new love. At the same time, the Queen is informed of the arrival of foreigners in the port whose ship has been wrecked. Didon agrees to allow them into the harbour. A brigade of Trojans arrives, and Ascagne presents himself and his fellow travellers to the Queen. The Trojan priest Panthée tells of a prophecy that will force Énée to travel in search of Italy. 
Didon’s counsellor Narbal informs her that the cruel Numidian leader has reached Carthage with a countless horde of savages and the city has insufficient weaponry to defend itself. Then Énée of fers assistance to Carthage. Leaving Ascagne in Didon’s care, he takes command of the now-unified soldiers and hastens to meet the enemy.

Act IV 
In Didon’s gardens Narbal is talking with Anna. He is worried that Didon, attracted by Énée, is ignoring affairs of State. Anna sees nothing amiss in this; Énée would be a magnificent ruler of Carthage. Narbal reminds her that the gods have decreed that Énée link his destiny with Italy, but Anna replies that there is no god on Earth more powerful than love itself. 
With dances and songs the subjects praise their Queen. With Énée beside her, she gradually forgets her late husband. Didon and Énée declare their love for one another. These declarations are interrupted by the appearance of Mercure, messenger of the gods, who informs Énée it is Jupiter’s will that he leave Carthage and set out for Italy.

Act V 
The sea coast of Carthage. Panthée and the Trojan leaders are discussing the terrible omens of the gods, displeased at their being delayed in Carthage. Énée’s soul is engaged in a bitter struggle between his duty, which calls him to Italy, and his love, which holds him in Carthage. He wishes to see the Queen one last time, but is confronted by the ghosts of Priam, Chorèbe, Hector and Cassandre who call to him to depart without delay. 
Didon cannot believe that Énée is attempting to sail away from her in secret. Énée begs her to forgive him, denoting the will of the gods, but Didon pays no heed to these supplications and curses him. And yet she begs Anna to ask Énée once again to remain. Anna is sorry that she gave her blessing to the love between her sister and Énée. When Didon is informed that the Trojans have left Carthage, in fury she orders the Carthaginians to sail after them and sink the Trojan fleet, but then, left alone, in despair she resolves to commit suicide. At the moment of the Queen’s death, another vision comes to her: Carthage will be destroyed and Rome will become eternal. The people of Carthage and the priests curse Énée and his people.

Schedule for Hector Berlioz "Les Troyens" (grand opera in 5 acts) 2021

Hector Berlioz "Les Troyens"
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Hector Berlioz "Les Troyens"
Mariinsky II theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

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