Seamen from a distant Eastern shore

Berlioz’ Les Troyens is one of those pieces that really deserves the descriptor “sprawling epic” and, if anyone can make an epic sprawl it’s David McVicar.  This production, recorded at the Royal Opera House in 2012, is typical of McVicar’s more recent work.  It’s visually rather splendid and the action is well orchestrated but it’s short on ideas and long on McVicar visual cliches; acrobats, gore and urchins (but mercifully no animals).  I don’t want to be too hard on McVicar.  This piece is based on the sort of “Ancient History” one used to learn at prep school (British usage) and McVicar pretty much runs with that making no attempt to find deeper meaning, despite superficially translating at least the first two acts to the time of first performance; the era of European colonialism.

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