, April 2014
Opera is a dangerous business for the audience member. A lot of one’s money hangs on the unpredictable whims of the stage directors. Singers and players usually serve the audience well but directors can sometimes impose a radical view which undermines and disrupt expectations to the detriment of the work. Sometimes it all works together extremely well, giving a result as moving as any artistic event can be. That was the case at Covent Garden in 2012 when Pappano and McVicar triumphed in Berlioz’s greatest masterpiece Les Troyens. Apart from Der Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth during the 1980s and 1990s I have heard nothing more impressive in the opera house. These superbly recorded discs brought it all back with the added benefit of judiciously chosen close-ups and easily read surtitles plus Pappano’s valuable insight lecture and act-by-act spoken introductions. And what a staging! Every inch of the ROH stage, both width and height, is used to house chorus, soloists, architectural facades, entire cityscapes, a huge horse-head, giant humanoid figures, forests and ships.
Everyone in the cast list above is superb but especial mention must be made of Aeneas, Bryan Hymel; Dido, Eva-Maria Westbroek; Cassandra, Anna Caterina Antonacci and Anna , Hanna Hipp; simply because the scale of their roles is so large. Westbroek is just wonderful, Hymel displays a level of power rarely heard and fills the role heroically. Antonacci gives a demoniac portrayal of the ignored prophetess of doom. They all have to sing out over a very large orchestra from which Berlioz expects a high level of virtuosity and, occasionally, of volume. The fact that I have not picked out everyone does not imply any lesser quality in smaller parts. As in Alice’s caucus race, everyone has prizes.
The picture is crisp and well lit, the sound in DTS HD surround has clarity and a wide dynamic range. Top class. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review