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On Monday night, the Metropolitan Opera presented its wonderful new production of Berlioz’s "Les Troyens," the epic tale of the fall of Troy and the Trojans at Carthage based on the second and fourth books of Virgil’s classic, "The Aeneid." Leading the parade of fashionable ladies who help to make this production possible were Cécile Zilkha in a gold brocade jacket over a ruffled black skirt cascading to the floor; Jayne Wrightsman in a black velvet evening coat with exaggerated cuffs embroidered with black jet beads and diamonds falling from her ears; the ever elegant Mercedes Bass in a black velvet column with a black satin bow at the waist and major sapphire earrings and a pin the size of the Trojan horse on the stage, and Bessie de Cuevas of the Rockefeller de Cuevases in black with a silver belt under a beautifully cut ruffled jacket.
"Les Troyens" was done in three acts over five hours. About as long as the Trojan War — but wonderful. During the intermission, there was a supper organized by the Opera Guild, which raised a significant amount of money to keep the singers singing. The chorus, over 100 strong, was in top form and thrilling from start to finish. The opera contains a considerable amount of inventive choreography, not the least of which involved a couple of dancers suspended from the ceiling of the great stage. The orchestra, with James Levine conducting, was splendid, not only while accompanying the singers but during extended musical intervals, as well. The two doomed leading ladies, who both die at their own hands, were nothing short of dazzling. Deborah Voigt, a staple of several Met productions including "Elektra" and "Aida," dies at the end of the first act. Her appearance was memorable, but Lorraine Hunt Lieberson as Dido, Queen of Carthage, stole the night with her compelling singing and acting. She made her Met debut in 1999 in "The Great Gatsby," but many saw this as her star-making performance that few will ever forget. Lieberson reminded one of a young Maria Callas and hers is going to be a career to watch and savor.