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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Sylvain Cambreling’s alternative DVD version of Berlioz’s epic opera, serves well enough…Recorded live at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, this strong, idiomatic version of Berlioz’s epic opera comes in the austere production of Herbert Wernicke, who combines the roles of director and designer of sets and costumes. The set throughout is a plain white semicircle framing the stage, with a narrow gap let in at the centre, through which one momentarily sees such essential props as the Trojan horse and Aeneas’s ship. Costumes are in a severe black, relieved only by bright red gloves for everyone in the first two Acts, La Prise de Troie, and by blue gloves for everyone except the exiled Trojans in the three Carthage Acts. Only royalty is exempt, with a crimson cloak for Priam in the first half and a royal blue one for Dido in the second. Modern military greatcoats are the rule in the first half, with Carthaginian men wearing black lounge suits in the second, while the women have timeless black robes. Happily, this stylization lets you appreciate the music without too much distraction. The great glory of the performance is the singing of Deborah Polaski both as Cassandra in La Prise de Troie and as Dido in Les Troyens à Carthage. Rarely on disc has she been quite so commanding, with the voice richly focused and with a subtle contrast made between her vocalization as Cassandra and then, more freely and with less tension until the end, as Dido. Jon Villars is a powerful Aeneas in both halves, Russell Braun handsome as Choroebus and Robert Lloyd a characterful Narbal, not helped by being costumed as a bespectacled businessman. Sylvain Cambreling draws urgent, idiomatic playing from the Orchestre de Paris, with the choral singing equally powerful, important when the chorus plays such a key role in Wernicke’s vision with its stylized movement…

L.A. Weekly, April 2003

"Polaski is a strong, intense singer; Villars is not the ultimate hero, but his work is clean and intelligent. Cambreling, still too little known here (except for a week at the Hollywood Bowl - small change!), leads a finely proportioned performance with special eloquence from the winds and horns of his Orchestre de Paris. The chances of a live-action Troyens being what they are hereabouts these days, this new video is a fairer-than-fair facsimile."

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