Recording Berlioz’s Les Troyens in Strasbourg
Michael Spyres (tenor), Richard Rittelmann (bass), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (mezzo-soprano), Stéphane Degout (baritone), Philippe Sly (bass), Stanislas de Barbeyrac (tenor), Nicolas Courjal (bass), Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano), Bertrand Grunenwald (bass), Agnieszka Slawinska (soprano), Jérôme Varnier (bass), Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), Frédéric Caton (bass), Cyrille Dubois (tenor), Jean Teitgen (bass), Hanna Hipp (mezzo-soprano), John Nelson (conductor).
Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Choeur de l’Opéra national du Rhin, Choeur Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Badischer Staatsopernchor
Nelson drives the drama with unforced tempos but ample theatrical vitality and grandeur… — BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2017, *****
Release Date: 24th Nov 2017
Catalogue No: 9029576220
Length: 3 hours 54 minutes
This new Erato recording of the complete, uncut score of Les Troyens is drawn from two concert performances that took place over the Easter weekend in April 2017 in the city of Strasbourg in eastern France. A magnificent cast of singers, predominantly Francophone, assembled under the baton of John Nelson, an acknowledged master of Berlioz’s music who has conducted Les Troyens more frequently than anyone else over a period of more than 40 years; he made his name with the piece when he led performances at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1974 and enjoyed great acclaim for a production at the Frankfurt Opera shortly before the Strasbourg concerts.
DVD Bonus: highlights from Live concert April 15th
Berlioz: Les Troyens
Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Choeur de l'Opéra national du Rhin, Choeur Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Badischer Staatsopernchor
John Nelson (conductor)
Michael Spyres (tenor), Richard Rittelmann (bass), Marie-Nicole Lemieux (mezzo-soprano), Stéphane Degout (baritone), Philippe Sly (bass), Stanislas de Barbeyrac (tenor), Nicolas Courjal (bass), Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano), Bertrand Grunenwald (bass), Agnieszka Slawinska (soprano), Jérôme Varnier (bass), Joyce DiDonato (mezzo-soprano), Frédéric Caton (bass), Cyrille Dubois (tenor), Jean Teitgen (bass), Hanna Hipp (mezzo-soprano).
THE SUNDAY TIMES - November 2017
"For DiDonato, Didon marks a watershed: she has done nothing finer on disc...Even more arrestingly, Spyres surpasses the fabled Jon Vickers as Enée (Aeneas), with his lighter, higher, more “wieldy” tenor...Lemieux’s Cassandre is in the Crespin class, the finest on any complete recording. A triumph."
THE GUARDIAN - November 2017
"Nelson never allows the dramatic pace to slacken...Some might find [DiDonato's] singing mannered and over-stylised at times, but its dramatic commitment is undeniable and Dido’s final aria is a tremendous emotional tour de force...[Spyres] offers a much more human and humane figure [than Vickers], with singing that never loses its elegance and stylish flexibility...this is now unquestionably the version of Berlioz’s masterpiece to have at home. " *****
THE TIMES - November 2017
"All [three main roles] are superbly cast...Lemieux is in rampant histrionic form as Cassandra...And Michael Spyres and Joyce DiDonato are perfectly suited as the doomed lovers Aeneas and Dido...the Strasbourg Philharmonic sounds wonderfully engaged and idiomatic in a supportively resonant acoustic...many Berlioz lovers still cling affectionately to Colin Davis’s two profound recordings, but for me, Nelson becomes top recommendation." *****
THE NEW YORK TIMES - December 2017
"Berlioz’s epic opera has rarely been given such luxury treatment as in this magnificent live recording from France. Mr. Nelson, a “Troyens” veteran many times over, expertly handles the unwieldy score with help from starry singers."
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE - Christmas 2017
"Nelson drives the drama with unforced tempos but ample theatrical vitality and grandeur…Spyres isn’t as heroic an Aeneas as Jon Vickers…but sings with lyrical grace and spirit and decent if not perfect French. Joyce DiDonato sings Dido with characteristic security and expressiveness…Cyrille Dubois and Hanna Hipp are attractive as Iopas and Anna." *****
FINANCIAL TIMES - November 2017
"[Nelsons] has a live-wire grip on the score and gets detailed playing from his orchestra...A key strength is the casting of French-speaking singers in so many roles...The main selling point, though, is the American pair of singers as Dido and Aeneas...Spyres sounds credibly the warrior hero, while managing his very high role with some elegance...DiDonato is by turns fiery and sensuous as the legendary Carthaginian queen." *****
GRAMOPHONE - December 2017
"Nelson is in no great rush, allowing Berlioz’s music time to breathe where necessary…Nelson’s cast is simply to die for. Marie-Nicole Lemieux captures all the wildness and unhinged desperation of Cassandre, her burnt caramel contralto utterly compelling…Énée is thrillingly sung by Michael Spyres…DiDonato’s vehement response to Énée’s desertion reveals her as a great tragedienne…In short this is a peach of recording."
PRESTO CLASSICAL - November 2017
"The Strasbourg orchestra play out of their boots for Nelson throughout: the entire score glitters, and the woodwind in particular cover themselves in glory ...Spyres’s Énee is a revelation – the tremendously taxing role could have been written for him...The process of working on this role seems to have unleashed darker colours and a formidable ‘blade’ in [DiDonato's] silvery mezzo, and she captures every nuance of Carthage’s ‘queen of hearts."