French composer Hector Berlioz knew he was taking on a monumental task when he chose Virgil's Aeneid as the basis for his opera, Les Troyens. The story of the aftermath of the Trojan War fueled a creative burst that resulted in an epic opera - so big and so expensive and so complicated that no theater would dare to produce it.
Berlioz died without seeing a complete production of the work. Though he finished composing it in 1858, the Paris Opera didn't stage the entire production until 1921.
Today, Les Troyens is considered one of the peaks of the operatic repertoire, and yet its grand style and size - it runs over five hours with intermissions - make productions a rarity. So opera fans were thrilled to find it in this year's Metropolitan Opera season, and especially thrilled to learn that it would be broadcast live all over the world.
Les Troyens will be broadcast "Live in HD" at Middlebury's Town Hall Theater on Saturday, January 5. Due to its length the broadcast will begin one hour earlier than usual, at noon.
The current production was staged by Francesca Zambello in 2003. When it opened, the New York Times raved about its majestic sweep: "This production is a visually stunning, seamlessly flowing and emotionally involving realization of Berlioz's inspired, famously unwieldy opera." The upcoming broadcast will feature Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Marcello Giordani and DWayne Croft. Principal conductor Fabio Luisi will conduct the large-scale musical forces.
Tickets are $24/$10 students, and may be purchased at 802 382-9222, www.townhalltheater.org, at the THT Box Office (Mon-Sat, noon-5 pm) or at the door.