Troyens, Les (The Trojans)
  • Hector Berlioz. Opéra in five acts. 1858.
  • Libretto by the composer, based on Virgil's Aeneid.
  • First performance of Acts 3 - 5, as Les Troyens à Carthage (The Trojans at Carthage), at the Théâtre Lyrique, Paris, on 4th November 1863. First complete performance in Carlsruhe on 6th December 1890.
CHARACTERS
Énée (Aeneas), Trojan hero, son of Venus and Anchises tenor
Cassandre (Cassandra), Trojan prophetess daughter of Priam mezzo-soprano
Didon (Dido), Queen of Carthage, widow of Sychaeus,
prince of Tyre mezzo-soprano
Chorèbe (Coroebus), a young prince from Asia,
betrothed to Cassandra baritone
Anna, sister of Dido contralto
Narbal, minister to Dido bass
Iopas, Tyrian poet at Dido's court tenor
Hylas, a young Phrygian sailor tenor
Panthée (Panthous), Trojan priest, friend of Aeneas bass
Ascagne (Ascanius), son of Aeneas soprano
L'ombre d'Hector (Ghost of Hector), Trojan hero, son of Priam tenor
Priam, King of Troy bass
Hécube (Hecuba), his wife mezzo-soprano
Sinon, a Greek spy tenor
Two Trojan Soldiers basses
A Greek Captain bass
Mercure (Mercury) bass
Hélène (Helenus), a Trojan priest, son of Priam tenor
A Priest of Pluto bass
Polyxène (Polyxena), sister of Cassandra soprano
Andromaque (Andromache), widow of Hector silent rôle
Astyanax, her son silent rôle

The Greeks have seemingly departed, and the Trojans, under siege for ten years, follow the treacherous advice of Sinon and drag the Wooden Horse into their city. Cassandra foresees what will happen. At night the ghost of Hector urges Aeneas to flee. Troy is destroyed, but Aeneas escapes to found a new Troy in the West. The Trojan women kill themselves, rather than fall captive to the Greeks. In Carthage Dido is established as queen of a prosperous city. Aeneas and his men arrive and help to protect the city from the attack of Iarbas. Returning victorious, Aeneas joins Dido in a hunt, during the course of which they shelter from a storm, while the voice of wood- nymphs still insist on Italy as the destination of Aeneas, reminding him of his duty. Dido and Aeneas sing of their love, but the god Mercury reminds him of Italy. Trojan ghosts appear to urge Aeneas on and he obeys, setting sail. Dido, abandoned, mounts her funeral pyre, calls for future revenge from Hannibal and kills herself with the sword of Aeneas, seeing, as she dies, the future power of Rome.

Berlioz had recourse to Virgil's Aeneid, a poem with which he had been familiar from boyhood, for the basis of his opera, a work that makes considerable demands on resources, although it should not last more than four and a half hours. It is a spectacular work and in its earlier history was divided into two parts, the first dealing with the capture of Troy and the second the events in Carthage. Most familiar of all to audiences are the orchestral Royal Hunt and Storm from the fourth act. The epic work is richly orchestrated, with off-stage effects that include groups of instruments set apart to give the impression of an approaching and passing procession in the first act, with an off-stage group of sax-horns. Over all is the grandiose historical perception of the destiny of Aeneas and the imperial future of Rome, a reflection of the concept behind his literary source.