Monday, September 22, 2008

The Trojan Wars

Over the last decade, I've toyed off and on with the idea of a themed opera season. I've seen some half-hearted attempts at this; for example, San Francisco Opera usually finds some kind of overarching tag line for its summer season. Those have seemed strained to me, though I suppose the 1998 season of Poppea, Lulu, and Carmen was aply characterized as "Femmes Fatales." Beyond the prima donna roles, though, it's hard to figure out what those operas might have in common.

I'd like to propose a Trojan Wars season, to be staged by a major opera company with a big budget and access to more than one performing space. My candidate operas:
  • Dido & Aenaes, Purcell
  • Les Troyens, Berlioz
  • Elektra, Strauss
  • Idomeneo, Mozart
  • Die aegyptische Helena, Strauss
  • King Priam, Tippett
  • Troilus and Cressida, Walton
  • One of the Iphigenia operas - Iphigenie en Tauride or Iphigenie en Aulis
  • Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, Monteverdi
  • Penelope, Faure
I've seen Elektra, Idomeneo, Iphigenie en Tauride, and, probably the greatest rarity I've seen live, Penelope. I'd want the 17th and 18th c. works done in a small theater, holding 800 to 1100, the big-gun works done in larger houses.

There must be other worthwhile Trojan Wars operas. And I have a couple of other seasonal themes in mind to blog.


margarete said...

Cavalli! La Didone!
It's a terrific opera.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oooh! Is it recorded?

pjwv said...

I vote for both Iphigenie operas. Why not?

There's also Jommelli's Didone Abbandonata -- maybe you could do a whole Dido season, with the Jommelli, the Cavalli, the Purcell, and the Berlioz.

There's also a version of the Oresteia by a Russian whose name I'm forgetting. Since some of the others are Trojan War aftermath stories, that one should count.

pjwv said...

Taneyev is the Russian. I should have just looked it up first.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Aftermath operas count. Has anyone done a good judgment of Paris opera?

Henry Holland said...

Birtwistle's terrific new The Minotaur is one to add, it's got Ariadne going to the Labyrinth and meeting Theseus etc.

Xenakis wrote a version of the Oresteia, it's being done in New York soon-ish.

I'm not really a fan of Tippett's music, but I love King Priam. The production I saw of it in England was one of the best nights I've ever had at the opera, a very powerful work.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The Xenakis definitely qualifies, but I'm foggy on where the Minotaur/labyrinth/Ariadne/Theseus falls in the Trojan War stories. If it qualifies, so does Ariadne auf Naxos. Off to the Wikipedia, I think.

Lisa Hirsch said...

the Minotaur story is rooted in conflicts between the Minoans and Athens, not the Trojan War, looks like.

Anonymous said...

Gluck's PARIDE ED ELENA, which was recorded in 2005 with Magdalena Kozena, among others, on DG.

Henry Holland said...

Crap, I should have checked Wikipedia like I intended to before I posted about The Minotaur. [removes egg from face]

You going to the Die Tote Stadt tonight?

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you, Anonymous!

Henry, bah, no. I would be at my chorus rehearsal tonight except that I'm home sick instead. Will see Stadt over the weekend or on Oct. 4.

I may spend the whole damn weekend at the opera house, in fact, on my feet, for the last Boccanegra, Bonesetter, and tote Stadt.

winpal said...

Every season should have at least one comedy, so you could add P.D.Q. Bach's Iphigenia in Brooklyn. :)

Henry Holland said...

Looking forward to hearing your take on the Korngold, I was going to fly up but I suspect that Torsten Kerl's voice is in pretty bad shape; the recording from 2004 from Salzburg is a bit of a trial.

While reading a review of the Xenakis piece, I found that Pizzetti wrote an opera called Clytemnestra. Would love to hear it, of course.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The early returns are that the Korngold is wonderful, though I have not read more than one sentence of review so far.

pjwv said...

Coincidentally, I just heard from a friend in NYC who went to hear his brother-in-law conduct what he described as the world premiere of Xenakis' Oresteia. "Very cool music" was the description.