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Les Troyens

Approximate running time


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.

Act 1

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.

Act 2

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.

Act 3

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.

Act 4

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.

Act 5

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.


Enee, Trojan Warrior, Tenor
Cassandre, Trojan Prophet, Mezzo-Soprano
Dido, Carthage Queen, Mezzo-Soprano
Anna, Dido's Sister, Contralto

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