Walls of Troy is the fifth opera I have written while lecturing at The University of Waikato. The idea was instigated by John Davies whose fascination with the Greek epics and tragedies kindled in me the inspiration to composer the opera. John's libretto was written over the summer of 2010-2011 and I began composing in February. The work was finished in May and rehearsals with the students started soon after.
The characters albeit to some extent mythological, express a complex and very real humanity and this made creating the music a very engaging process. Specific musical motives and instrumental highlights are given to the roles. For example Achilles is often accompanied by two trombones; Hermes, the only god personified in the opera, has a recurring minor 7th interval to glissandi strings; Priam and Hecuba, the aging king and queen are punctuated by both strident musical gestures and heart-felt lyricism; the chorus, as in Greek tragedies, comments on proceedings but also enacts the looming tragedy of the Trojan people, and the orchestra, energized by the inclusion of the University Brass Quintet adds a rich palette of sound.
Setting the libretto was a joy and it is to John's credit that I barely changed a word since the pattern of the story was so tightly constructed. In some ways to yet again visit this famous encounter with Achilles and Hector, which has been rendered on film and other operas, may seem less than fecund, however it is a great story and the many incarnations only serve to amplify its value. My thanks to all those who have committed so much time and energy into bringing this production alive.
David Griffiths, September 2011
Libretto by John G Davies