This week’s theme is French Opera Today we’re listening to Shirley Verrett, and Nicolai Gedda sing the love duet, “Nuit d'ivresse et d'extase infinie”, from Act IV of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens. Thank you to (moi) one of our members for pointing me in this direction
Having finally wiggled my toes in the warm waters of French opera, I have plunged in and begun swimming with "Les Troyens". First of all, I am certain I would have enjoyed six hours of the kind of grand spectacle required by Berlioz's grand opera. After all, films, plays and streaming services have enabled us to sit through hours of entertainment. Berlioz was simply ahead of his time. Shirley Verrett and Nicolai Gedda performing “Nuit d'ivresse et d'extase infinie” was so beautiful.
At LaScala I watched Verrett rehearse the revival of Verdi's MACBETH in Milan with Claudio Abbado. They were a great team and their recording remains one of the best.
My Tributes to Hector Berlioz (1803-69)
Carthage, Tunisia, Berlioz and us in Century 21. The site of Carthage has been excavated and is now an ancient site somewhat restored in our time. Colleagues with the Hannibal Alliance and I have corresponded since Tunisia won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Maybe we could do a field trip to Carthage with Opera Daily and meet my Tunisian colleagues there or perform part of the Berlioz at that site. The French established the National Theatre there and Tunisia signed the first peace treaty w/ America in 1789.
Berlioz is grateful too. Every night Berlioz' Father read him the AENEID as a bedtime story which became part of his artistry as a composer. It was never heard complete in Paris in his lifetime and for 90 years until the Royal Opera House did it in the 1950's with brutal cuts. LES TROYENS was vilified by critics for almost a century and one remarked that Berlioz was buried under the Wall of Troy. Nonetheless, you work here is extremely important for LES TROYENS and Berlioz in Century 21.
I am looking forward to going deeper. It's mind boggling to me how moved he was as a child by Virgil's poetry. To say he was a genius feels like it falls short when describing him.
BTW Les Troyens (4 hours) started at 7pm- ended before midnight The Met premiere breezed by in waves of exhiliration, rhapsody and sensuality. Each Chorus, Dance, Solo, Interlude or Duet were breathtaking. The orchestration a miracle.
Wagner's RING falls short by comparison.
***A marvellous tapestry of voices and orchestra***
And thank you Daniel, for your feedback and contributions. I truly appreciate your support and continued feedback as we work to learn, evolve and and grow this newsletter into something special that people enjoy can eventually, love!
I would also recommend a look at Berlioz. I am convinced that many of his works were really intended for the stage as Opera's. In fact, I produced and directed a production of L'Enfance du Christ at the Park theatre that works beautifully as Opera. Berlioz loved the stage but was terrified by bad reviews. Berlioz started renaming them as Oratorio, Dramatic Symphony like his Damnation of Faust (which The Met staged) and Romeo & Juliet. Actually they were all innovative stage works but not French opera per se.
Wonderful. I heard Shirley Verrett and Jon Vickers premiere LES TROYENS at The Met. They were overwhelming and unforgettable. BENVENUTO CELLINI in Andrei Serban's production with Marcello Giordani revealed Berlioz' profound love for Italy (with the Roman Carnival). Colin Davis was a great Berliozian as well
Thanks to Berlioz too "with his red hair playing his guitar" as he appears in my "organized labor" (Author House) in poetic form.