Top critical review
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Missing just one thing to be truly magnificent
on 13 March 2007
This recording ought to have been five stars. The singers are superb, most of the conducting sensitive.
But it just doesn't pay attention to the staging, and this ruins a lot of the big dramatic moments.
Take the end of Act I. Berlioz has set up a brilliant tragedy of a doomed people, about to find out what's in the Trojan Horse. A triumphal march plays - a repeat from before - subtly makde more ombinous, with Cassandra pleading for something to be done. Abruptly the triumphal march breaks off...
And there's the problem. It doesn't break off abruptly. The staging - and this is said as much in the libretto published with the CD - calls for a clear, sudden break off of the march to indicate the Greeks flooding out of the Trojan horse. We don't get that. The music is forced to flow on into Cassandra's final words, and much of the dramatic tension is lost.
Act II ends with a suicide pact by the Trojan women, with Casandra dying last, crying one, last, strangled "Italy!" in defiance.
...She isn't allowed her cry, and so the music that shows her last summoning of energy followed promptly by her death lacks the context.
This recording comes so close, and manages so many things well, but there's whole additional depths that, as a live recording, divorced from staging, it misses. Which is a damn shame, as it'll be hard to get a cast this good together again.