Ken attended two performances of the 1972 run of The Trojans (note: not Les Troyens since the work was performed in an English translation by Edward Dent) and, since this was the last time it was seen in these parts prior to the 2012 extravaganza just finished, what better excuse to dip into the archive?
Two casts evidently performed, with Ken taking the admirable step of purchasing one programme and annotating the differences in cast. Common to both of them was the Aeneas of Jon Vickers, who had also taken the role in the 1969 run. 21 September brought the Dido of Josephine Veasey adjacent to the Cassandra of Jessye Norman, her debut at Covent Garden, with Elizabeth Bainbridge as Anna. Just over a fortnight later, on 7 October, Josephine Veasey had been brought forward to play Cassandra, whilst Janet Baker mounted the throne of Carthage, with Heather Begg as her sister.
The performance was, in common with the 2012 run, broadcast with the assistance of the BBC (who are contributors to thespace.org through which Les Troyens was live-streamed), but in this case as a live broadcast on Radio 3 of the 7 October outing (Veasey/Baker/Begg). A talk filled the first interval from 7pm to 7:25pm, the second interval being occupied by ‘Access: a fortnightly series presenting arguments that challenge current orthodoxies’, which on this occasion muscled in on the downfall of Carthage to consider religion and politics in Ireland.
The production was by Minos Volanakis and had premiered on 17 September 1969, though interestingly the revival team of Ande Anderson and John Copley are the only ones credited in the programme. (Anderson became Director of Productions in 1972, through to when he took on the role of General Manager of the Company in 1979.) Although Veasey and Begg were cast members in common with the earlier run, Anja Silja sang Cassandre and the 1969 performance was in French. Berlioz’s great champion, Colin Davis, of course conducted in his second year as Music Director of the Royal Opera.
The tickets (D37 and D41 Amphitheatre for successive performances) cost £1.60 and £1.30 each – I gather that’s inflated to about £14.50 and £17.80 respectively in today’s money. Today those same seats (in a much reworked auditorium since refurbishment, don’t forget) would set you back £32 and £69 in turn.