March 06, 2019

LES TROYENS By the Numbers

The Greek siege of Troy has ended…or has it? Is that enormous wooden horse outside the city walls a gift, or a portent of doom? Trojan princess and seer Cassandra predicts it, and catastrophe ensues. The hero Aeneas escapes to fulfill his destiny by founding a new Troy in Italy. But first, he leads Carthage’s army to victory in battle, and also falls in love with noble Queen Dido. What happens when Aeneas departs to pursue his fate and breaks a royal heart?

A timeless tale of conflict set to gorgeous French-romantic music by 19th-century composer Hector Berlioz, Les Troyens requires massive forces and resources to stage.

The numbers:

22 named parts in Les Troyens, more than in virtually any other opera

94 total chorus singers in Lyric’s production (Lyric’s regular chorus is 48)

10 dancers

77 orchestra musicians 

4 American companies have previously staged Les Troyens (The Met, San Francisco Opera, LA Opera, Opera Company of Boston)

1978 Chicago-area concert premiere of Les Troyens by CSO at Ravinia, under James Levine

2001, 2002: CSO concert performances of Les Troyens at Symphony Center – Parts One and Two in consecutive seasons, under Zubin Mehta

5 hours – amount of time it takes to experience Lyric’s production of Les Troyens (including 2 intermissions)

751 pages in full opera score 

10 weight of full score in pounds 

7 weeks for Berlioz to write the libretto

2 years for Berlioz to write libretto and full score

1 Berlioz opera previously performed at Lyric (Damnation of Faust, 2009-10)

3 operas total composed by Berlioz (third is Benvenuto Cellini)

9 hours it takes to read the Aeneid by Virgil, the inspiration for Les Troyens

442 pages, length of the Aeneid

9,896 lines in dactylic hexameter, a rhythmic scheme used in classical and epic poetry, comprise the Aeneid

137,020 words in the Aeneid

10 years the siege of Troy lasted

3 years of design, development and construction of more than 

80,000 pounds of scenery for Lyric’s production

30 automation motors

600+ lights

300 costumes
15 dollars, the cost of a pre-packed meal available for purchase before each performance, to be picked up during first intermission (choice of beef, turkey, or veggie sandwich with chips and bottled water)

Lyric’s new production of Berlioz’s Les Troyens is generously sponsored by

Donna Van Eekeren Foundation

The Nelson Cornelius Production Endowment Fund

Photo: Todd Rosenberg