A rare sighting of a new opera recording

April 19, 2017 by norman lebrecht


Erato tell us they have spent the last three days recording Berlioz’s Les Troyens in Strasbourg.

It involved the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, three choirs and sixteen soloists over two five-hour concerts with conductor John Nelson, a total of 239 musicians.

The headline artists are the US mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and tenor Michael Spyres and the French-Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux.

The set will be released in November.

Photo: Grégory Massat/Erato

Comments (14)

  1. Suzanne says:

    I attended both performances. Superlative casting by Erato/Alain Lanceron, exceptional playing by the orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg under the enlightened, thrilling, beautiful guidance of John Nelson. Can’t believe it was Joyce DiDonato’s debut as Dido, she completely inhabited the role. And Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Cassandra brought many in the house to tears before the first intermission. Bravo to all involved. Had to pinch myself – thought the days of opera recordings on this scale and of this quality were long gone.

  2. Olassus says:

    Intéressant! John Nelson has long experience in Berlioz, and Erato deserves praise for picking up where it left off 15 years ago with him — after Béatrice et Bénédict, Benvenuto Cellini, the Te Deum. Also, Spyres is excellent, and Lemieux characterful. Not sure about DiDonato in French rep. We will hear. At the moment there really is no perfect recording of Les Troyens.

    1. Stuart Rogers says:

      Looking forward to hearing this once the recording comes out. One could argue that there is no “perfect” recording of any work. I have both of the Davis recordings, and both are fine though the one I regularly listed to is the second recording with the LSO. The casting in Strasbourg looks great on paper.

    2. Olassus says:

      … dream team for Les Troyens would be Stéphane Denève, Paris Opera chorus, Vienna Philharmonic, Bryan Hymel as Énée, Sophie Koch as Cassandre, Ludovic Tézier as Chorèbe, and so on.

      1. Alain Louy says:

        Ceux qui ont été à ces deux concerts s’en souviendront toute leur vie.Absolument historique !
        Tout le monde est sorti bouleversé.

      2. MDR says:

        Conducted by Stéphane Denève, universally hated by orchestras. Are you joking?!

        1. John says:

          Ah, you know that all the orchestras in the universe hate this conductor? Really?

          1. MDR says:

            Hyperbole… I only know about the three European orchestras he’s held positions with. Loathe would perhaps be more appropriate.

      3. Johnny Ski-key says:

        Looks like Hymel was originally supposed to take part in this recording.

  3. Elvira Labis says:

    Interesting about Deneve,I listened to him in Cincinnati I was very impressed.

  4. Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

    Sorry guys, don’t want to stop your enthusiasm. Quite the opposite: Les Troyens is a rare jewel and with that cast you can’t be wrong.

    My concern is the wrong headline. Shouldn’t it be “A new recording of a rare opera”? Live opera recording are not such a rare thing as NL tells us. Happens all the time: e.g. Mozart/Da Ponte with COE & Nézet-Séguin and Operas with Netrebko both on DG or radio broadcasts burned on CDs. These products are not necessarily casted by the record labels. A studio recording (that’s what I would call a real recording btw) of an opera that’s something that happens not so often these days. However, there are at least some Mozart Operas with Currentzis on Sony for instance.

  5. Nick says:

    Such a shame that Dame Janet Baker never recorded the part with another great Berlioz interpreter Sir Alexander Gibson and his Scottish forces. There is the old BBC recording made during the Glasgow performances in 1969 but this has seriously deficient miking, hardly surprising when in those days the engineers were restricted to mics placed around the proscenium arch for the stage singing. And of course that was sung in English. There is also a subsequent short half CD of excerpts with the LSO in French. Both give a tantalising glimpse of what could have been the finest Trojans recording so far.


    I can’t wait! John Nelson is an admirable opera conductor!

  7. paul lewis says:

    Look forward to hearing this recording. It will be hard to beat the 1960’s Davis/LSO and despite some short comings I like the Dutoit/OSM recording not least because of exceptional quality of the sound which captures all the details of this remarkable score.

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