Address : Opernring 2, 1010 Wien Austria
The Vienna State Opéra is much more than just a local institution; it is a vital part of the city's identity and a national landmark.
As of the 17th century, the Hapsburgs lavishly patronized the opéra. Family members Ferdinand III and Leopold I composed for the théâtre, while Charles VI tried his hand at conducting the orchestra, and the Empress Maria-Theresa often mingled with the corps de ballet.
During the 19th century, the Karntnerthor-Theater was demolished and the présent building was constructed on the famous " Ring ". It was here that Mahler, with the help of the set designer Alfred RoUer, imposed a new style of performance, based on audacious stagings and a very précise interprétation ofthe score, which demanded countless rehearsals.
After the fall of the Hapsburgs, Richard Strauss took over the reins of the newly baptized Vienna State Opéra. Curiously enough, only one of Strauss'operas, THE WOMAH WITHOUT A SHADOW, was premiered in Vienna. Clemens Krauss and Karl Bôhm were to follow in his footsteps. Under Bôhm's direction, the Opera created its own Company, which was to serve as a model for several générations. Even the bombs that destroyed the opéra house in 1945 could not prevent singer s such as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Sena Jurinac or Erich Kunz from becoming legendary.
One musn't think that the Viennese applaud only their homegrown stars. In 1955, when Maria Callas came to sing LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR in the reconstructed building with Karajan conducting, the public blocked traffic to pay tribute to the diva... in the street! Karajan succeeàed Karl Bôhm, and invited many international stars to corne sing on the Viennese stage. Works were henceforth sung in their language of origin, and coproductions with La Scala permitted the disco-very of voices such as that of Mirella Freni in LA BOHEME.
Ioan Holender has suceeded in deftly combining these international distributions with an ensemble System. He has scheduled many works never heard on the Viennese stage, which are now included in the Opera's répertoire, such as Verdi's JERUSALEM and Enesco's OEDIPE, furthering a policy instated under Claudio Abbado's brilliant direction. Whatever changes may now occur, the Opera will continue to stage at least 300 performances per season (an absolute world record ren-dered feasible thanks to the în-house technical crew, which hires no less than 250 people), and the public will continue to applaud the finest orchestra any amateur could wish for in the pit : the Vienna Philharmonie !
LES TROYENS, THE GREATEST OPERA EVER WRITTEN
The British critic W.J. Turner declared this opera by Hector Berlioz to be the greatest ever written in his book on the author in 1934. Berlioz wrote the opera and libretto himself between 1856 and 1858, but died before a performance of the full score was staged because of problems creating the epic scenes required for the opera.
After the composer died in 1869, it took a further 21 years for a heavily edited version of the five act opera to be performed in full. In 2014, a performance of the full opera lasts over four hours.
Les Troyens tells the story of the end of the Greek siege of Troy, which ends with the arrival of the wooden horse in the city. With the city defeated, Enee (Aeneas) sets out to establish a new Troy to the west, but finds his way barred by his love for Dido. The God Mercury arrives to remind Aeneas of his duty to establish Rome and breaks the heart of the tragic Dido.
The opera opens with a celebration within Troy as the besieging Greek forces have apparently left the city walls. Cassandre has a vision of the destruction the wooden horse will bring to the city, but is ignored by the rest of the citizens. News arrives of a priest being devoured by a serpent, a sign of the displeasure of the Gods before the wooden horse is brought into the city.
Greek soldiers are now destroying Troy and searching for treasure, Enee (Aeneas) is told by the ghost of Hector that he should rebuild Troy in Italy. A group of soldiers arrive and Enee joins them in battle. Cassandre is then seen discussing the success of Enee in saving the treasure of Troy and freeing some of Troys citizens. Greek soldiers arrive and Cassandre kills herself before her followers join her in death.
The people of Carthage and their queen Dido are celebrating their prosperity when an unknown ship arrives in port, the sailors arrive with the treasure of the city of Troy. Dido assures her people of her reluctance to remarry after the death of her husband, as the sailors tell their story of a new Troy in Italy news comes of Carthage being attacked. Enee reveals himself and fights for the pride of Dido.
At the beginning of the fourth act the people are relieved that the invading armies have been overpowered, but are now worried by the apparent love of Dido for Enee. Despite Enee seeming to be a good future King, Narbal reminds Anna that his destiny has been set in Italy. Dido finally has her wedding ring removed and sings of her love for Enee.
Enee and his followers have now been in Carthage for a long period of time, prompting the Gods to send omens of bad tidings for the sailors. Enee tries to sneak away, unable to tell Dido that he must leave her. Dido then builds a funeral pyre, from which she kills herself and has visions of Enee's death at the hands of Hannibal.
THE MAIN ROLES
Enee, Trojan Warrior, Tenor
Cassandre, Trojan Prophet, Mezzo-Soprano
Dido, Carthage Queen, Mezzo-Soprano
Anna, Dido's Sister, Contralto
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