TROJAN WOMAN by Elizabeth Swados

Trojan Women

Composer Elizabeth Swados

Director Andrei Serban

Second Director Daniela Dima

Costumes Doina Levintza

Music director and orchestrator Lucian Maxim

Scenery and lights Andrei Şerban

Assistant directors Alex Gherman, Anca Serbanuta, Victor Zaharia


A show by Andrei Şerban


Of all its mountings, the Ancient Trilogy occupies a special place. The Trojans are the most eloquent fragment of this masterpiece, composed in collaboration with Liz Swados nearly 40 years ago.

The Trojan show is dedicated to the memory of Ms. Ellen Stewart, founder of La Mama Theater in New York, where it was originally created.

Without her courage, determination and support, this project would not have existed, and obviously it would not have circulated all over the world, now going to the Romanian National Opera Iasi.



Instead of synopsis   The End of the Trojan War. The participants, headed by Queen Hecuba, evoke the spirit of Troy. Trojan women become the prisoners of the Greek soldiers. Princess Cassandra, Apollo’s priestess, in a prophetic trance, warns of future losses and sacrifices. Andromaca, Hector’s widow (dead and he, like all the Trojan heroes), protects her son, Astyanax, the only male Trojan survivor. He represents the last hope of the Trojans, who are rushing to crown it as a king, but the Greeks take him hostage to kill him. Elena, who provoked the war when she was kidnapped by the Parisian Trojan, appears. It is brought by Menelaus, the husband betrayed and humiliated. The two camps, reunified in hatred, cast themselves on it. Hecuba a curse. The second part of the show has a more lyrical character, it’s a meditation on the tumultuous events that took place. The king child is buried, Achiles’ ghost comes to avenge her death, and Poluxena, a young woman, falls victim to her. The ships are ready for the trip to Greece, the women call each other good. They will be taken into exile. Though they have been dispossessed, something is left to them, something that can not be taken away: the force of the spirit. A civilization is over. Trojans will be assimilated to a new culture. But this spiritual force will be the flame that will give birth to the new civilization. Troy … Greece … then Rome, every culture has transmitted the spirit further.


About Liz Swados (composer)


Liz Swados lives in New York where he has been working for 40 years as a writer and composer. She has won many awards and awards, including five Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, Guggenheim and Ford.

She is known for the Runaways musical on Broadway and Alice in the Wonderland in concert with Meryl Streep, but she loves most of the Greek Trilogy, composed with Andrei Serban, when she was only 19 years old.

In her career she composed music for many films, 30 musicals, wrote 4 novels, 2 poetry books and 12 children’s books. She devoted most of her career to New York teenagers with behavioral problems, helping them to channel their rebellious energy creatively.

She has also worked together with Andrei Serban on other shows that she is very proud of: The Goodman from Seciuan, How you like it (La Mama), Herakles (National Theatre of Thessaloniki) and Cymbeline in Central Park.


Our Adaptation


“… shares the same subject as the opera of Berlioz, Les Troyens. Although initially premiered 40 years ago in a theater – La Mama in New York, led by the famous and unique Ellen Stewart – the work had an epic operatic shape and structure. American composer Liz Swados, inspired by various ethnographic musical themes, belonging to certain cultures she studied in her travels, composed a work in which text and music were conceived together: the ancient Greek language of Euripide (original) treats the disastrous effects of the invasion of the Greeks in Troy and the tragic consequences of destroying a civilization. These events were explored not as a museal staging but as a visceral experience that could touch any of us at any time in history.

Much of the vocal workout was based on the study of other cultures. The musical expression of various tragical myths, whether African or Asian or closer to us in the Balkans, all these themes and melodies echoed in the soul of the universal man. How did it work? For example, in the rehearsals I gave the performers a listening to a collection of Maramures lamentations. The actors tried to reproduce the sound first by mechanical repetition, then discovering the sound vibration mechanism from inside so that the emission became organic. The libretto naturally evolved without thinking about the order of the sentences, but with the key situations of the play, and from there we found the most appropriate expression of expressing them freely in the rhythm. The final collage did not follow Euripides’ text at all, but by the chain of actions and key situations, precisely orchestrated, the atmosphere and feel of the play were recreated. And after many international tours and a long career on the New York stage, the Trojans (one of the three parts of the Greek Trilogy) were staged at the National Theater in Bucharest immediately after the revolution. The impact on generations that followed was strong. And that’s why Beatrice Rancea who was playing and dancing in the show, proposed to me to restore this universal experiment of theatrical opera in Iaşi.


For all the singers as well for the audience, I want this opportunity to remain unique, demonstrating through the rhythm the force of the Greek tragedy and its universal message. Although it is at the opposite pole to the serene and cheerful grace of Les Indes Galantes, in contrast, the Trojans express the desire to live freely and fulfilled in a painful experience of the captivity and exile of the Trojan women.”

Andrei Şerban