La belle Hélène, by Jacques Offenbach
Greek history and classical mythology collide in Offenbach’s over-the-top sequel to Orpheus in the Underworld. We learn how a beauty contest between three goddesses triggered the Trojan War. The shepherd Paris awards the Golden Apple to Venus, who promises him the most beautiful woman in the world. Helen of Troy hears about this, and sets her sights on Paris, who (surprise) is really a Trojan prince who abducts beautiful women. Helen is all too happy to cooperate. With the aid of the High Priest Calchas, Paris and Helen outwit her husband Menelaus and four clueless Greek kings.
Opera for the People is a lecture series by Larry Oppenheim designed for both the opera novice and the experienced opera lover. In less than an hour, you’ll enjoy a guided tour of an opera which combines concise commentary with exciting video excerpts. If you are new to opera, you will discover the key anchor points to listen for. If you are an opera veteran, you will come away with new insights and a fresh perspective. And if you plan to attend a performance, your enhanced knowledge should increase your enjoyment!
Larry Oppenheim is president of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra (East Bay), where he is co-principal oboe, and also writes the program notes. Larry’s goal is to make opera more enjoyable and accessible to everyone – including those who may have never gone to an opera.