About the album

BERLIOZ: LES TROYENS

Joyce DiDonato, Michael Spyres, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Stéphane Degout, Nicolas Courjal, Marianne Crebassa, Hanna Hipp, Cyrille Dubois, Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Philippe Sly, John Nelson, Choeur de l’Opéra du Rhin, Badischer Staatsopernchor, Choeur philharmonique de Strasbourg

John Nelson
Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg

*BBC Music Magazine – 2018 Award Winner “Best Opera Recording”

*Awarded Les Victoires de la Musique Classique for 2019

Taken from concert performances in Strasbourg that were described as “the musical event of the year”, this recording of Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens presents the score absolutely complete. John Nelson, unrivalled in his authority in this mighty work, conducts a cast led by Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Cassandre, Joyce DiDonato as Didon and Michael Spyres as Énée.

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 Troyensmore 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.

Release date: November 24, 2017

Reviews

“Joyce DiDonato is Didon. Her probity as an artist informs the character, and her serious approach suggests the queen’s aristocratic nature. But her portrayal is also distinguished by its emotional transparency, her quick vibrato indicating the beating heart beneath the regal exterior. The dignity of DiDonato’s approach in Acts III and IV makes Didon’s disintegration in Act V all the more shocking; when she lashes out in searing rage at Aeneas, it registers as a cataclysmic fall from grace. DiDonato has long been one of opera’s most winning performers, but here she shows herself an epic tragedienne.”

Opera News

“For DiDonato, Didon marks a watershed: she has done nothing finer on disc. This is singing in the Janet Baker/Lorraine Hunt Lieberson class, but I doubt either of those great Didons rose to the emotional extremes of suicidal despair that the American mezzo does here.”

The Sunday Times

“Joyce DiDonato is by turns fiery and sensuous as the legendary Carthaginian queen, the silvery top of her voice adding an unusual vulnerability.”

The Financial Times

“Michael Spyres and Joyce DiDonato are perfectly suited as the doomed lovers Aeneas and Dido, moving tragically from the almost supernaturally charged harmonic bliss of their Act IV love-duet to the spitting venom of the Act V break-up and then (with DiDonato summoning every ounce of her theatricality) the final curse on the departing Trojans.”

The Times

“If only Berlioz had lived to hear this… Joyce DiDonato sings her first Didon with a persistent sense of intense vulnerability – her final monologue is a heart-rending exposure of a soul in despair.”

The Daily Telegraph

“…it’s always a special thrill to hear a singer who seemed to be already at the peak of their powers undergo a sea-change, and that’s exactly what we experience here with DiDonato. The process of working on this role seems to have unleashed darker colours and a formidable ‘blade’ in her silvery mezzo; her French diction is idiomatic and incisive, and she captures every nuance of Carthage’s ‘queen of hearts’, from the tremulous erotic thrill of her first encounter with Énee to her scorching suicide-scene. I’ve never heard her sound better, which is saying a great deal.”

Presto Classical

“One of the best opera releases of last year was a complete recording of Berlioz’s Les Troyens.

Perhaps best of all is Joyce DiDonato’s Didon, warm and sensual, her final pages truly the stuff of great tragedy.”

Classical Music

“When it comes to Joyce DiDonato and Michael Spyres, the word that immediately springs to mind is ‘souplesse’ (flexibility, suppleness). DiDonato’s Didon moves from the commanding to the emotionally wrought whilst Spyres’ Enée is lithe and heroic. But it is the suppleness of their line which I came to enjoy, just listen to the beautifully shaped love duet which concludes Act Four.

Joyce DiDonato is fabulous in the way she conveys Didon’s welter of emotions, moving from whiplash command to emotional wreck on the turn of a pin, but always within the classicism of Berlioz’ writing. Parts of the role might take her to her limits, but she never makes the line bulge or explode, the emotion is writing the music and the ending is heartrending.”

Planet Hugill

Presto Recordings of the Year, Finalist 2017
Presto Recording of the Week, 24th November 2017

Awarded the Gramophone 2018 Recording of the Year

Awarded the Gramophone Classical Music Award for Opera

“Michael Spyres is a colossus as Énée, in gripping, inexhaustible voice with thrilling top notes that have real ping. In Carthage, he falls for Joyce DiDonato’s noble Didon – and who can blame him? The American mezzo sings with tender ecstasy in their ‘Nuit d’ivresse’ love duet, yet summons up a vehement response to Énée’s desertion.”

Gramophone

Awarded Opus Klassik‘s “Opera recording of the year”

Watch the trailer below:

Album info

Release date: November 24, 2017
Number of Discs: 4
Format: Studio
Label: Erato
ASIN: B0749LRN1C

5 hours ago

You can hear the whole concert TONIGHT on @AllArtsTV ... free of charge, my friends ... free of charge! #ARTSFORALLhttps://t.co/tDd3GmNBs8

5 hours ago

Thank you, Holly!!! We had the time of our lives! https://t.co/WihknxgiER

5 hours ago

The more I sing it, the more I love it! So happy to introduce so many people to this piece!!! https://t.co/kO5vlUNkau

FOLLOW Joyce DiDonato

This tour went WAY too quickly! Happily, it will have a lot more life in the years to come - hopefully in a city near you! In the meantime, an immense thank you to the brilliant @princetonuniversityconcerts series at #Richardson Hall. What a joy to be a part of your 125th Anniv Season! To all the wonderful singers in the audience today: the world awaits your magic! And to these astonishing musicians and friends - MY BAND! I adore each of you and thank you for playing with me!!!! @craigterrypiano @hotlipsporter @lautaro_greco #ChuckIsraels #JimmyMadison. #Playon!!

What a week!!! Monday #Songplay at the #AppelRoom in NYC, then glorious rehearsals for #Clemenza for the @metopera, and next up - a final Songplay (for the moment!) at @princeton!! What’s next? Spring will spring???? #bringiton

If you missed my fascinating conversation with @kevankenney as part is the @buildseriesnyc, you can see it here - but buckle your seatbelt, we get INTO it! https://www.facebook.com/JoyceDiDonatoOfficial/videos/572654543226769/

Thank you, @buildseriesnyc and the fab @kevankenney for the thoughtful questions! Check it out on www.BUILDseries.com

Head to www.buildseries.com at 5pm ET today for a LIVE video of my chat with the fab @kevankenney! Can't wait to be back at BUILD Series ✨#aolbuild @askonasholt @warner_classics Photo: @chrissingerme

Tune in to @medici.tv or @lincolncenter’s Facebook page TONIGHT at 8:30pm to watch Songplay LIVE from Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Theater! Can’t wait!! 🎺🎹🎤🥁🎵 Performed as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook. @allartstv @askonasholt @warner_classics @craigterrypiano @hotlipsporter @lautaro_greco #chuckisraels #jimmymadison

Just arrived at the #AppelRoom and the inspiration is everywhere! Tune in in just under 4 hours LIVE on @medici.tv!!

Working our way to the East Coast, #Songplay landed in #Boston for the @celebrityseries, and we had a brilliant time!!! Was great having so many @necmusic students there!!! Thanks for all the love!! Next stop: #NYC, LIVE from the Appel Room as part of @lincolncenter’s American Songbook. You can watch this “dazzling”, “masterful”, “brave” and “playful” concert LIVE via the one-and-only @medici.tv!!! Don’t miss it!!!! @craigterrypiano @hotlipsporter @lautaro_greco #chuckisraels #jimmymadison

Well, hello, @oberlincon! How YOU doin’? Can’t wait to see y’all tomorrow night for #SongPlay! #playwiththatsong #yougottalovetobeabletoplay

Follow Joyce on Instagram

There will always be more freedom to acquire and more truth to uncover.

~ Joyce DiDonato