As gifts go, it's pretty grand, so you can understand why the Turks fell for it. It's a huge wooden horse, it probably looked pretty nice, like a kind of exciting moveable statue. Who would ever have guessed that Greek soldiers were inside?
It's a legend that has sparked many modern-day retellings, including this 2004 depiction of the battle of Troy:
Virgil's Aeneid also served as inspiration for Berlioz who wrote both the libretto and music for his opera, Les Troyens. The work is sprawling and it's always been a challenge to mount because of its huge scope and its length. His Damnation of Faust has remained much more popular but I think it's safe to say Les Troyens is the opera that was closest to Berlioz's heart.
At the Met, it has been mounted once a decade, first in the '70s with Shirley Verrett alongside two Canadians, Jon Vickers and Louis Quilico. Here's a bit of that performance:
Les Troyens also opened the 1983 Met season with another all-star cast. In fact, Les Troyens marked Jessye Norman's Met debut, who sang alongside Allan Monk and Placido Domingo:
The Met's 1993 production of Les Troyens didn't have the star power of the '70s and '80s, but did include mezzo-soprano Susan Graham. Here she is in another staged production of the opera, alongside tenor Gregory Kunde:
2003 marked the last time the Met staged Berlioz's Les Troyens. Starring as Dido was the stunning Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. It was to be the last time she'd appear on stage at the Met. She died at the height of her career, struck down by breast cancer. The 2003 Les Troyens also starred Ben Heppner and Deborah Voigt:
And so the 2012-2013 season marks the return of Les Troyens to the Metropolitan opera stage. And it promises to be a very exciting performance. It stars two big Troyens stars of the past: Susan Graham and Deborah Voigt. It's also worth noting that Canadian mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne sings the smaller role of Ascanius.
Here's the principal cast list:
Deborah Voigt, Cassandra
Susan Graham, Dido
Karen Cargill, Anna
Bryan Hymel, Aeneas
Eric Cutler, Iopas
Dwayne Croft, Coroebus
Kwangchul Youn, Narbal
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Fabio Luisi, conductor
English-language translation of the libretto
Synopsis, courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera