This new production of Les Troyens at the Chatelet had been one of the major events in the celebrations for the 200th birthday of one of France's greatest composers, Hector Berlioz. Les Troyens is one of the greatest masterpieces of 19th century opera, one that stands alongside with Verdi's 'Otello' and Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde'.
Director/designer Yannis Kokkos created wonderful classical sets, brown - gray for the first two acts, white - blue for the second part of the opera and directed a very effective and moving show.
John Eliot Gardiner conducted his Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique magnificently. Various period brass instruments are used on stage according to Berlioz instructions. The Monteverdi Choir combined with the Chatelet Choir make a wonderful and precise sound. The linkage of the music of Berlioz with Gluck is presented here more than in any other performance of this masterpiece I have heard in the past.
Major roles have been given to lighter-voiced singers than one usually associates with this score, but Gardiner assembled a great cast of wonderful singers - actors. Anna Caterina Antonacci is a magnificent Cassandra: a beautiful woman, a fascinating actress. She has a real sense of the text and sings with great beauty. Susan Graham sings a great performance of Dido with big violence and involvement for the tragic last scene of the opera.
Tenor Gregory Kunde sings a lot of bel canto roles, while the heroic Aeneas needs voices like Vickers, Heppner etc. but Kunde as Aeneas is a great surprise. Ludovic Tezier as Chorebe is one of the best baritones singing in French. Mark Padmore sings Iopas aria 'Blonde Ceres' beautifully, and Laurent Naouri is an impressive Narbal. So is the young Mezzo from Croatia Renata Pokupic. Tenor Topi Lehtipuu sings the young sailor Hylas's Act V aria 'Valon sonore' beautifully.
Great opera. Magnificent performance!
Highly recommended. Should be in every opera fan collection.