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Rrecuperating from The Trojans


  1. Dale Cockrell says:

    Thanks for this, Joe. As you know, I was there too and the music still resounds in my head: I still find the hairs standing on my neck at the strangest times, a response to the memory. Just an extraordinary experience.
    I’d always read that Berlioz was treated kindly by audiences and critics in the 19th century America, but had never bothered to dig that out. What you write is fascinating. (If I remember, Berlioz considered an offer to come to the USA; wonder what that would have done for music in this nation.)
    Of all you write, though, I’m still not convinced completely by the statuary simile: Didon might appear to be a statue, but it’s the flesh and blood we come to care about; same with Cassandra; only Aeneas is finally a statue and ….we don’t finally care as much for him (nor did Berlioz, I think). And, as compelling as the concert version was, I can still imagine a thoroughly successful staged production. One of the images I take from the 1973-4 Met production (which I saw on 16 March 1974, according to the program I’ve found) is of Shirley Verrett as Cassandra, costumed differently than the other Trojans and subtly spotlighted, winding her manic way among the jubilant masses: visually, it made the music yet more powerful.
    Digging through my old files, I see I have a review by Alan Rich in New York Magazine, dated “ca. 9 Nov. 1973” in my pen, that starts: “It’s a week later, and I’m still haunted by Les Troyens . . . His music represents a body of artistic daring that is unique in the annals of the arts.” Another “Roadie!” I remember writing to Hugh MacDonald (who edited the LT score) soon after I first heard the Colin Davis recording, and telling him of weeping at its unexpected beauty and power. He wrote back describing his “Road to Damascus” experience with this great piece. I’ve since discovered there’s a coterie of us Roadies out there. It’s just an astounding piece.
    Thanks again.

  2. Tom Simone says:

    The performances of “The Trojans” in London in December 2000 under the inspired direction of Colin Davis with the London Symphony Orchestra were transcendent. My wife and I had complimentary air tickets from being bumped from a flight from Italy. We went across the ocean just to see two of the three performances. Musicians of the caliber of Mitsuko Uchida and Michael Tilson Thomas were in the audience. A grandeur and beauty beyond belief. Never exceeded and only a few times equaled in more than 40 years of musical experience.
    As someone noted quite a while ago, not just a country but a continent of art and beauty.

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