La Belle Hélène
1862 was not a good year for Jacques Offenbach. His theatre, Bouffes-Parisien, had gone bankrupt and Paris had been deprived of a vital and critical voice in opposition to the political and cultural establishment. Instead his music was applauded by European high society in the health resort Bad Ems, where Offenbach started collaborating with the local orchestra.
His efforts to find success on the opera stages of the world failed: the opera Die Rheinnixen was not much of a hit in Vienna in 1864. However, when Napoleon III suddenly decided to revoke his uncle’s decree of government monopoly on theatre, anyone was free to open a theatre and perform whatever he or she wanted, wherever they wanted.
Offenbach sees his chance and puts his old librettists, Meilhac and Halévy, to work.
As Orpheus in the Underworld from 1857 had been such a huge hit, they decided to once again use the Ancient World as a theme when heckling the world around them. Work with the libretto took quite some time, but thanks to Offenbach’s remarkable speed in composing the music – the third act of the opera was composed in 72 hours – Helen of Troy could open 17 December 1864. The opera was an enormous success and many people consider Helen of Troy his greatest work after Tales of Hoffman.
Offenbach’s score has now been restored back to the original version, allowing us to hear the vitality, clarity and elegance that marks this piece of music, at the same time discovering that the political and cultural world has remained the same. Irony and satire are manifested in the same way now as 140 years ago.
In the lead role, the Göteborg Opera’s own Helen of Troy – Helena Holmberg
Helena, drottning av Sparta
Bacchis, hennes kammarjungfru
Leona, hetär i Orestes följe
Parthenis, hetär i Orestes följe
Paris, son till Priamus
Orestes, son till Agamemnon
Agamemnon, kungarnas kung
Menelaus, kung av Sparta
Akilles, kung av Phtia
Ajax I, kung av Salamis
Ajax II, kung av Lokien
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