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

17 hours ago

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19 May

Molt ben!! https://t.co/DPgapaYJYt

19 May

So happy you enjoyed it, Marc! https://t.co/WFhpvpkKcR

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TONIGHT we bring our #Agrippina to the @liceu_opera_barcelona for 3.75 hours of scheming da capos!! No puc esperar!!!! #elpoderabsolutcorrompeabsolutament #totiaixíaquestsrecitatius #diversíoperversa Photo: Javier Del Real @ilpdo

Close up of the print on my Agrippina Dress! I found the silk in #Shanghai and knew it was for this aspiring, conquering Handelian Roman!!! #dragonsandbuildingsandsilkohmy #abdolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #norestforthewicked #rulersareyoutakingnote??

Last night I had the great, wicked joy of debuting the role of Agrippina with my beloved Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra and a wonderful cast. It’s going to be great fun getting to know her more and more ... not a moral fiber to be found in her!!!! Reminds me of a few people presently in power, no?? #absolutepowercorruptsABSOLUTELY #motheroftheyear #wheresmythrone #whatdoesagirlhavetodotogetacrown #thoserecitsthough 📸: @catecool

When I first flirted with the idea of taking on #Agrippina, it was asked of me, “But you do know she’s quite wicked, right?” Oh yes. I know. A new tour begins NOW with an extraordinary cast and my beloved partners Il Pomo d’oro with Maxim Emelyanychev at the helm. Between our limited 5-city tour, we are RECORDING!! • Handel: AGRIPPINA Luxembourg City • Madrid • Barcelona • Paris • London Il "Pomo d'Oro" orchestra @ilpdo @maxim_emelyanychev, harpsichord/director • Joyce DiDonato - Agrippina @LucaPisaroni - Claudio @elsabenoitsoprano - Poppea @xaviersabata - Ottone / Giunone Franco Fagioli- Nerone @andrewmastroni - Pallante @carlo.vistoli - Narciso Biagio Pizzuti - Lesbo • #BacktoHandel #Wicked #absolutepowercorruptsabsolutely #ihavealwaysbraggedabouthowmuchiloverecitative #timetoputmymoneywheremymouthis #HIGHDRAMA #handel @philharmonie_lux @teatro_real @liceu_opera_barcelona @theatre_champs_elysees @barbicancentre @askonasholt STYLING: @vitatzykun PHOTO: @chrissingerme

“I left my heart ... in Windy Chi-Town...” Aside from the glorious music making with the astonishing, treasured @chicagosymphony, it was this day at the Warrenville Juvenile Detention Center that stole my heart. I applaud the CSO and Maestro Muti for their commitment to bring their music to these beautiful kids, and I was deeply honored to sing for them. Seeing tears come to their eyes as they experienced Mozart first hand was simply life-affirming. As the beautiful girl in the yellow shirt told me afterwards as tears spilled from her eyes, “I don’t know what happened to me, but it feels like all of the anguish I’ve ever felt in my life came pouring out of that music.” Let’s not EVER underestimate the need for human connection in these kids’ lives. In a broken system and an often broken world, music and the arts are a bonafide, VITAL part of healing. How can you help? Photos: @toddrphoto

Can you #HANDEL the #glamour? You know you can’t!!! 🤓 Hotel room studying, people. It’s real, it’s thrilling, and it’s my most favorite thing everrrrrrrrrrrrr. [srcsm] #sheisNOTplayingaround #anythingforthethrone #andstillshepersisted #couldthereBEmorerecitative? #no #notherecouldnot #justtakethethronealready #GOTagrippinastyle #absolutepowerblahblah #historySUREDOESrepeat #andstill ... #thisroleisEPIC

Getting my Cléopâtre on! What a JOY to be back on stage with the singular @chicagosymphony making extraordinary music together. I’m so glad to be here.

I am thrilled to remain in the gorgeous world of Berlioz a while longer and look forward to singing his poignant cantata La Mort de Cléopâtre with the brilliant Chicago Symphony Orchestra​ and Maestro Riccardo Muti​ this week! May 2, 4 & 7: Orchestra Hall May 3: Wheaton College​ @chicagosymphony @riccardomutimusic Photo: Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

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

~ Joyce DiDonato