Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Les Troyens, 25th June 2012

I know the Gheroghiu/Alagna La boheme from Saturday still needs a post, but I feel the need to write about my experience last night right away! It was an interesting one that has thrown up a number of big questions for me around opera and what I like and what I'm finding I don't like about it. 

Les Troyens is a mighty, mighty opera. Not staged by the Royal Opera since 1969 (according to the gentleman sat next to me) it's immensely expensive to stage and stretches the Opera House to its very limit (this new production is by the recently knighted Sir David McVicar). Probably only Wagner's Ring Cycle is more demanding. That of course makes it a fascinating spectacle to behold. It also makes it painfully long - I was in the Opera House for 5hrs 45mins in the end last night and I left feeling totally exhausted. From the emotional drama of the opera, yes, but also from sitting on a bench seat rammed between two people and leaning forward for a view. Anything of this length means taking provisions with you which mean a sandwich, plenty of water and crackers and hummus. I'm sorry, but it's all a bit too much. I really did enjoy the show, it was a good theatrical production from my basic knowledge of these things, and the singing was good. In fact it was exceptional in the case of Anna Caterina Antonacci. Antonio Pappano was great in the pit too, as always. I have to say it - Bryan Hymel was great..But what if Joans had been there?

I guess the telling of the story of the Trojans needs to be on an epic scale, it's an epic tale after all. The staging came complete with a gigantic, metallic Trojan horse, a mass suicide at the end of Act II, a full on ballet for much of Act IV. Essentially it had everything you could possibly cram into an opera. But for me it was all just a bit too much. I can't fully concentrate on anything for much over 3hrs, let alone 5hrs. I just can't see where the real, serious enjoyment is in watching something on this scale. For me it was a test of endurance, and that therefore means it wasn't enjoyable. As I near the end of my self proclaimed mission to see the Royal Opera's 2011/12 season I'm getting a crystal clear picture of what I like and don't like when it comes to opera. Berlioz's Les Troyens is something I can tell my nephew I've done, but it's certainly not something I'll be going to see again in my lifetime. Once is enough for an epic like this, and maybe that's the way it should be....

Perhaps I should rethink my Wagner Ring Cycle for October!

Rating: ** (I feel it deserves 4 stars just for the sheer scale of the whole thing, which is a major achievement, even if I didn't personally enjoy the experience that much)
Seat: AA27, Upper Slips Left, £15 (I actually really like these seats, but NOT for a marathon like this)
Synopsis: Les Troyens

NEXT (AND FINAL!) OPERA: Otello, 24th July

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