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Attendance ranges from 4 to 19. Small groups have their own charm.
If you are interested in scheduling a specific opera or ballet contact Bob (SOH Manager For Life) via email or by phone at 208-7972.
Les Troyens (in English: The Trojans) is a French grand opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself from Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid; the score was composed between 1856 and 1858. Les Troyens is Berlioz’s most ambitious work, the summation of his entire artistic career, but he did not live to see it performed in its entirety. Under the title Les Troyens à Carthage, the last three acts were premièred with many cuts by Léon Carvalho’s company, the Théâtre Lyrique, at their theatre (now the Théâtre de la Ville) on the Place du Châtelet in Paris on 4 November 1863, with 21 repeat performances.
At the abandoned Greek camp outside the walls of Troy
The Trojans are celebrating apparent deliverance from ten years of siege. They see the large wooden horse left by the Greeks, which they presume to be an offering to Pallas Athene. Unlike all the other Trojans, however, Cassandre is mistrustful of the situation. She foresees that she will not live to marry her fiancé, Chorèbe. Chorèbe appears and urges Cassandre to forget her misgivings. But her prophetic vision clarifies, and she foresees the utter destruction of Troy. When Andromache silently walks in, the celebration halts.
Énée then rushes on to tell of the devouring of the priest Laocoön by a sea serpent, after he had warned the Trojans to burn the horse. Énée interprets this as a sign of the goddess Athene’s anger at the sacrilege. Against Cassandre’s futile protests, Priam orders the horse to be brought within the city of Troy and placed next to the temple of Pallas Athene. There is a sound of what seems to be the clashing of arms from within the horse, but the Trojans, in their delusion, interpret it as a happy omen. Cassandre has watched the procession in despair, and as the act ends, resigns herself to death beneath the walls of Troy.
Before the act proper has started, the Greek soldiers hidden in the wooden horse have come out and begun to destroy Troy and its citizens.
Scene 1: Palace of Énée
With fighting going on in the background, the ghost of Hector visits Énée and warns him to flee Troy for Italy, where he will build a new Troy. After Hector fades, Panthée conveys the news about the Greeks hidden in the horse. Ascagne appears with news of further destruction. At the head of a band of soldiers, Chorèbe urges Énée to take up arms for battle. All resolve to defend Troy to the death.
Scene 2: Palace of Priam
Several of the Trojan women are praying at the altar of Vesta/Cybele for their soldiers to receive divine aid. Cassandre reports that Énée and other Trojan warriors have rescued Priam’s palace treasure and relieved people at the citadel. She prophesies that Énée and the survivors will found a new Troy in Italy. But she also says that Chorèbe is dead, and resolves to die. The other women acknowledge the correctness of Cassandre’s prophecies and their error in dismissing her. Cassandre then calls upon the Trojan women to join her in death, to prevent being defiled by the invading Greeks. One group of women admits to fear of death, and Cassandre dismisses them from her sight. The remaining women unite with Cassandre in determination to die. A Greek captain observes the women during this scene with admiration for their courage. Greek soldiers then come on the scene, demanding the Trojan treasure from the women. Cassandre defiantly mocks the soldiers, then suddenly stabs herself. Polyxène takes the same dagger and does likewise. The remaining women scorn the Greeks as too late to find the treasure, and commit mass suicide, to the soldiers’ horror. Cassandre summons one last cry of “Italy!” before collapsing, dead.
DINNER BREAK at 4:10PM- 5:30PM
The Carthaginians and their queen, Didon, are celebrating the prosperity that they have achieved in the past seven years since fleeing from Tyre to found a new city. Didon, however, is concerned about Iarbas, the Numidian king, not least because he has proposed a political marriage with her. The Carthaginians swear their defence of Didon, and the builders, sailors and farmers offer tribute to Didon.
In private after these ceremonies, Didon and Anna then discuss love. Anna urges Didon to remarry, but Didon insists on honoring the memory of her late husband Sichée (Sychaeus). Iopas then enters to tell of an unknown fleet that has arrived in port. Recalling her own wandering on the seas, Didon bids that these strangers be welcome. Ascagne enters, presents the saved treasure of Troy, and relates the Trojans’ story. Didon acknowledges that she knows of this situation. Panthée then tells of the ultimate destiny of the Trojans to found a new city in Italy. During this scene, Énée is disguised as an ordinary sailor.
Narbal then comes to tell Didon that Iarbas and his army are attacking the fields surrounding Carthage and are marching on the city. But Carthage does not have enough weapons to defend itself. Énée then reveals his true identity and offers the services of his people to help Carthage. Didon accepts the offer, and Énée entrusts Ascagne to Didon’s care. The Carthaginians and Trojans then prepare for battle against the Numidians.
Scene 1: Royal Hunt and Storm
This scene is a pantomime with primarily instrumental accompaniment, set in a forest with a cave in the background. A small stream flows from a crag and merges with a natural basin bordered with rushes and reeds. Two naiads appear and disappear, but return to bathe in the basin. Hunting horns are heard in the distance, and huntsmen with dogs pass by as the naiads hide in the reeds. Ascanius gallops across the stage on horseback. Didon and Énée have been separated from the rest of the hunting party. As a storm breaks, the two take shelter in the cave. At the climax of the storm, nymphs with dishevelled hair run to-and-fro over the rocks, gesticulating wildly. They break out in wild cries of “a-o” (sopranos and contraltos) and are joined by fauns, sylvans, and satyrs. The stream becomes a torrent, and waterfalls pour forth from the boulders, as the chorus intones “Italie! Italie! Italie!”. A tree is hit by lightning, explodes and catches fire, as it falls to the ground. The satyrs, fauns, and sylvans pick up the flaming branches and dance with them in their hands, then disappear with the nymphs into the depths of the forest. The scene is slowly obscured by thick clouds, but as the storm subsides, the clouds lift and dissipate.
Scene 2: The gardens of Didon by the shore
The Numidians have been beaten back, and both Narbal and Anna are relieved at this. However, Narbal worries that Didon has been neglecting the management of the state, distracted by her love for Énée. Anna dismisses such concerns and says that this indicates that Énée would be an excellent king for Carthage. Narbal reminds Anna, however, that the gods have called Énée’s final destiny to be in Italy. Anna replies that there is no stronger god than love.
After Didon’s entry, and dances from the Egyptian dancing girls, the slaves, and the Nubian slave girls, Iopas sings his song of the fields, at the queen’s request.
She then asks Énée for more tales of Troy. Énée reveals that after some persuading, Andromaque eventually married Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, who killed Hector, Andromache’s earlier husband. Didon then feels resolved regarding her lingering feelings about her late husband. At one point, Ascagne slips Sichée’s ring from Didon’s finger. Didon retrieves it, but then forgets about it later. Alone, Didon and Énée then sing a love duet. At the end of the act, the god Mercury appears and strikes Énée’s shield, then calls out three times, “Italy!”
Scene 1: The harbour of Carthage
Hylas sings his song of longing for home, alone. Two sentries mockingly comment that he will never see his homeland again. Panthée and the Trojan chieftains discuss the gods’ angry signs at their delay in sailing for Italy. The sentries remark that they have good lives in Carthage and do not want to leave.
Énée then comes on stage, singing of his despair at the gods’ portents and warnings to set sail for Italy, and also of unhappiness at his betrayal of Didon with this news. The ghosts of Priam, Chorèbe, Hector and Cassandre appear and relentlessly urge Énée to proceed on to Italy. Énée gives in and realizes that he must obey the gods’ commands, but also realizes his cruelty and ingratitude to Didon as a result. He then orders his comrades to prepare to sail that morning, before sunrise.
Didon then appears, appalled at Énée’s attempt to leave in secret, but still in love with him. Énée pleads the messages from the gods to move on, but Didon will have none of this. She pronounces a curse on him as she leaves.
Scene 2: Didon’s apartment at dawn
Didon asks Anna to plead with Énée one last time to stay. Anna acknowledges blame for encouraging the love between her sister and Énée. Didon angrily counters that if Énée truly loved her, he would defy the gods, but then asks her to plead with for a few days’ additional stay.
The crowd has seen the Trojans set sail. Iopas conveys the news to Didon. In a rage, she demands that the Carthaginians give chase and destroy the Trojans’ fleet, and wishes that she had destroyed the Trojans upon their arrival. She then decides to offer sacrifice, including destroying the Trojans’ gifts to her and hers to them.
Alone, she resolves to die (Je vais mourir – “I am going to die”), and after expressing a final love for Énée, prepares to bid her city farewell (Adieu, fière cité – “Farewell, proud city”).
Scene 3: The palace gardens
A sacrificial pyre with Énée’s relics has been built. Narbal and Anna expound curses on Énée to suffer a humiliating death in battle (Dieux de l’oubli, dieux de Ténare – “Gods of oblivion, gods of Tenarus”). Didon then ascends the pyre (Pluton… semble m’être propice – Pluto… seems to be propitious”). She removes her veil and throws it on Énée’s toga (D’un malheureux amour, funestes gages – “You, sad pledges of an unhappy love”). She has a vision of a future African warrior, Hannibal, who will rise and attack Rome to avenge her.
Didon then stabs herself with Énée’s sword, to the horror of her people. But at the moment of her death, she has one last vision: Carthage will be destroyed, and Rome will be “immortal”. The Carthaginians then utter one final curse on Énée and his people, vowing vengeance for his abandonment of Didon, as the opera ends.
Rusalka (pronounced [ruˈsalka] , Op. 114, is an opera (‘lyric fairy tale’) by Antonín Dvořák. The Czech libretto was written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil (1868–1950) based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová. Rusalka is one of the most successful Czech operas, and represents a cornerstone of the repertoire of Czech opera houses. A Rusalka is a water sprite from Slavic mythology, usually inhabiting a lake or river.
Dvořák had played viola for many years in pit orchestras in Prague (Estates Theatre from 1857 until 1859 while a student, then from 1862 until 1871 at the Provisional Theatre). He thus had direct experience of a wide range of operas by Mozart, Weber, Rossini, Lortzing, Verdi, Wagner and Smetana. Rusalka was the ninth opera Dvořák composed.
For many years unfamiliarity with Dvořák’s operas outside Czechoslovakia helped reinforce a perception that composition of operas was a marginal activity, and that despite the beauty of its melodies and orchestral timbres Rusalka was not a central part of his output or of international lyric theatre. In recent years it has been performed more regularly by major opera companies. In the five seasons from 2008 to 2013 it was performed by opera companies worldwide far more than all of Dvořák’s other operas combined.
The most popular excerpt from Rusalka is the “Song to the Moon” (“Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém”) from act 1 which is often performed in concert and recorded separately. It has also been arranged for violin and used on film sound tracks.
A glade at the edge of a lake
Three wood-sprites tease the Water Gnome. He pretends to try to catch them, but is philosophical when they run off laughing. His daughter, the water nymph Rusalka, confesses that she wants to become human, because mortals have souls which are denied to the fairy world, and because she has fallen in love with a mortal who often swims in the lake. Grieving, but realising that there is no turning back for her, he advises her to consult the witch Jezibaba. Rusalka calls on the moon to tell her love she is waiting for him, then calls Jezibaba, whose cottage is beside the lake. First giving her the ability to walk on land, the witch asks what she will give to become human. She is unimpressed by Rusalka’s offer of all that she has, telling her that she will have to be mute when among humans. She also warns that if her love is not returned, her lover will share eternal damnation with her. Rusalka is confident that her human soul and her love will be strong enough to prevail. They go into the cottage, where Jezibaba brews the potion.
Morning approaches and the Prince’s hunting party draws near the lake, in pursuit of an elusive white doe. The Prince, commenting that the woods are full of magic, sends his followers home and sits by the lake. Rusalka appears before him, dressed like a waif. The Prince wonders if she is woman or fairy tale and asks if she is kin to the white doe. She is unable to reply and he declares that her lips will at least respond to his kiss. When he asks if she loves him she flings herself into his arms, as her sisters and father lament. The Prince takes her with him.
A week later, a park surrounding the Prince’s castle. In the background a gallery and banquet hall. In the foreground a pond. The kitchen boy explains to the gamekeeper that the Prince has found a strange creature in the woods and is likely to marry her. The gamekeeper confirms that the woods are full of sinister magic. The kitchen boy worries that the Prince has changed, walks round in a daze, and has resisted the parson’s attempts to warn him of danger. The only hope is that he is supposed to be fickle and is apparently turning his attentions to a visiting foreign princess.
They run off as Rusalka, beautifully dressed but sad and pale, approaches with the Prince, who complains that he has yet to fathom her mystery and reproaches her for not responding to the warmth of his passion. The Foreign Princess is jealous of the Prince’s love for Rusalka, and detaches him from her by reminding him of his duties as her host. They leave to prepare for a ball and the Water Gnome emerges from the pond, lamenting that his daughter has left her home and fearing that she will be unhappy. At the ball the Prince courts the Foreign Princess and neglects Rusalka, who runs out to her father lamenting that the Prince has left her for another. Now neither a fairy nor a woman, she can neither live nor die. The Princess rejoices in the change that has come over the Prince now that he is courting her. He swears that he prefers her warmth to Rusalka’s pallid coldness, but the Princess taunts him with not knowing which he prefers. When he declares that he loves only her, Rusalka flings herself desperately into his arms, but he pushes her away, terrified by her icy coldness. The Water Gnome pulls Rusalka into the pond and the confused Prince begs the Princess for help against the powers of magic, but she derisively tells him to join his beloved in hell, and leaves.
The glade by the lake
Rusalka laments her fate, cut off from her sisters and rejected by the Prince. Jezibaba tells her that only the blood of her betrayer can save her, but Rusalka, horrified, throws the knife into the lake and Jezibaba taunts her for her weakness.
As Rusalka dives into the lake, her sisters reject her, since she has been corrupted by the embrace of a mortal.
The kitchen boy and the gamekeeper come to consult Jezibaba, as the Prince has been bewitched by an evil creature who has left him under a spell. Angrily the Water Gnome emerges from the lake, defending his daughter and blaming the Prince for betraying her. The boy and the gamekeeper run off in terror.
The wood-sprites try to resume their sport with the Water Gnome, but he is too sad to respond to their game. The Prince runs madly out of the wood, crying out for Rusalka as his white doe. Now changed into a will-o’-the-wisp, she appears in the moonlight above the lake and he begs her if dead, to kill him; if alive, to save him. She answers that she is neither living nor dead and now her embrace can only bring him death. She kisses him and he dies as she begs for divine mercy for him.
Scene 1. A village, a mill in the background
Lisa, the proprietress of the inn, is consumed with jealousy as the betrothal procession of Amina and Elvino, who had once been betrothed to her, approaches. She spurns the lovelorn Alessio. Amina thanks her friends for their kind wishes and particularly her foster-mother Teresa, owner of the mill, who had adopted her as an orphan. She thanks Alessio, who had composed the wedding song and organised the celebrations, wishing him well in his courtship of Lisa, who continues to reject his advances. Elvino arrives, having stopped on his way at his mother’s grave to ask her blessing on Amina. He gives Amina his mother’s ring and they exchange vows.
A stranger arrives, asking the way to the castle. Lisa points out that it is getting late and he will not reach it before dark and offers him lodging at her inn. The newcomer, who surprises the villagers by his familiarity with the locality, asks about the celebrations and admires Amina, who reminds him of a girl he had loved long ago. He admits to having once stayed in the castle, whose lord has been dead for four years. When Teresa explains that his son had vanished some years previously, the stranger assures them that he is alive and will return.
As darkness approaches the villagers warn him that it is time to be indoors to avoid the village phantom, but he is not superstitious and assures them that they will soon be free of the apparition. Elvino is jealous of the stranger’s admiration of Amina; he is jealous even of the breezes that caress her, but he promises her he will reform.
Scene 2. A room in the inn
Lisa tells the stranger that he has been recognised as Rodolfo, the long-lost son of the count, and warns him that the village is preparing a formal welcome. Meanwhile she will be the first to pay her respects. She is flattered when he begins a flirtation with her, but runs out, dropping a handkerchief, when a sound is heard outside.
It is Amina, who enters the room, walking in her sleep. Rodolfo, realising that her nocturnal wanderings have given rise to the story of the village phantom, is about to take advantage of her helpless state, but is struck by her obvious innocence and refrains. She falls asleep on the sofa and he goes outside as the villagers are heard advancing on the inn to welcome their new lord. Lisa points to the sleeping Amina and Elvino, believing her faithless, rejects her in fury. Only Teresa believes in her innocence.
Scene 1. A wood
On their way to ask the count to attest to Amina’s innocence, the villagers meet Amina and Teresa, on a similar mission. Elvino continues to reject Amina, even when the count sends a message that she is innocent. Elvino is not convinced and takes back the ring, though he is unable to tear her image from his heart.
Scene 2. The village, as in Act I
Elvino has decided to marry Lisa. They are about to go to the church when Rodolfo tries to explain that Amina is innocent because she had not come to his room awake – she is a sonnambulist, a sleepwalker, but Elvino refuses to believe him.
Teresa begs the villagers to be quiet, because Amina has at last fallen into an exhausted sleep. Learning of the impending marriage, she confronts Lisa, who says that she has never been found alone in a man’s room. Teresa produces the handkerchief Lisa had dropped. The Count refuses to comment, but continues to assert Amina’s virtue. Elvino demands proof, which is dramatically produced when Amina is seen walking in her sleep across the high, dangerously unstable mill bridge. Rodolfo warns that to wake her would be fatal, so all watch as she relives her betrothal and her grief at Elvino’s rejection. When she reaches the other side safely, Elvino calls to her and she wakes to find herself in his arms, to the rejoicing of all.
Scene 1. The grand hall of the palace of the Duke of Mantua
A ball is in progress. The duke tells Borsa about a beautiful girl who has caught his eye in church, but to whom he has not spoken. His attention is caught by the appearance of the Countess Ceprano and he expounds his philosophy that all women are alike; he can give his heart to one as readily as another and constancy is a bore. His approaches to the countess are frustrated by her nervousness of her jealous husband, until the hunchbacked jester Rigoletto distracts the count and allows the duke to slip off with the countess.
In Rigoletto’s temporary absence Marullo has a bit of scandal to tell: he has discovered that Rigoletto has a mistress. Rigoletto enrages Ceprano by his lack of subtlety in suggesting to the duke that he dispose of the jealous husband by cutting off his head. The courtiers are tired of Rigoletto’s tricks and gibes and plan to be revenged on him.
Monterone bursts in demanding to be heard. Taunted by Rigoletto for his concern about his daughter’s lost honor, he curses the duke and Rigoletto – to the superstitious horror of the latter.
Scene 2. A street with Rigoletto’s house on one side and Ceprano’s palace on the other
Brooding on the curse, Rigoletto is accosted by Sparafucile, a killer for hire, offering his services and (like the courtiers, thinking that Rigoletto keeps a mistress) pointing out that Rigoletto has a rival. Rigoletto dismisses him, but takes note of where he may be found if needed. He reflects that he is no better than Sparafucile, who kills with the sword, as he does with his tongue. A deformed man, forced to amuse others for his existence, he blames the duke and the court for his own wickedness.
Only in his home is he another, better man. He tenderly embraces his daughter Gilda. He evades her questions about his life and family, remembring the dead wife who had loved him despite his deformity. He tells Gilda that she is everything to him and is terrfiied when she begs to be allowed to leave the house. He summons her duenna Giovanna and instructs her to look to his daughter’s safety
He goes outside to investigate a noise and the duke slips in and hides, throwing a purse to Giovanna to ensure her silence. Having found no one, Rigoletto bids his daugther farewell – to the surprise of the duke, who had been unaware that Gilda was his jester’s daughter. Gilda confesses to Giovanna that she feels guilty that she has not told her father of the handsome young man she has seen at church. She muses about her love for the stranger, but is alarmed when he suddenly emerges and professes his love. He calms her fears and she admits to her love. He tells her he is a poor student called Gualtier MaldË. Hearing sounds outside he leaves and she reflects on the name of her beloved as she prepares to go to bed.
In the street the courtiers are planning her abduction. Rigoletto, unaccountably nervous, reappears and they pretend they are carrying off Countess Ceprano, enlisting his help to hold the ladder, after blindfolding him. It is only when they have broken into his house and carried off Gilda that he tears off the bandage and realises what has happened, blaming Monterone’s curse for his misfortune.
A room in the duke’s palace
Like Rigoletto, the duke had gone back to the house to find Gilda gone. His concern for her convinces him that this time he is really in love. The courtiers describe their exploit to him and he soon realises it is Gilda they have carried off, and rushes to comfort her with the revelation of his true identity.
When Rigoletto comes in search of Gilda, the courtiers feign indifference. Realising that she is with the duke he first abuses the courtiers, then begs them to restore his daughter. As she emerges in a state of disarray from the duke’s bedroom, he orders the courtiers to leave. Gilda tells him about the young man at church and about how she had been abducted, though making no reference to what has occurred just now. Rigoletto comforts her and promises they will leave Mantua. Monterone, led by on his way to prison, laments that the duke is still untouched by his curse. Rigoletto swears that Monterone will be avenged by him, as Gilda pleads in vain for mercy.
A tumbledown inn in a deserted spot on the banks of the River Mincio Rigoletto has brought Gilda to Sparafucile’s dwelling in an effort to convince her that the duke, whom she still loves, is faithless. They watch as, after proclaiming his belief in the fickleness of women, he makes advances to Sparafucile’s sister Maddalena, who, while pretending disbelief in his extravagant protestations, is not indifferent to him. Rigoletto sends Gilda home to change into men’s clothes and set off for Verona, where he will follow her the next day. Sparafucile collects half his fee – the rest is to be paid when he hands over the duke’s body at midnight.
Gilda returns as a storm begins, and listens as Maddalena pleads with her brother to spare the duke – even insulting his professional pride by suggesting he murder his client, Rigoletto, instead. He agrees that if anyone arrives before midnight he will kill him instead, and Gilda determines to sacrifice herself for the duke. She knocks on the door, is killed and her body thrust into a sack and handed to Rigoletto when he returns.
Refusing Sparafucile’s offer of help, Rigoletto exults in his revenge, only to hear the duke singing in the distance as he leaves. Tearing open the sack, he discovers Gilda on the point of death. She begs his forgiveness for disobeying him, explaining that she is dying to save the duke. Promising to pray for him in heaven with her mother, she dies, leaving Rigoletto to the realisation that the curse has been fulfilled.