14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
atrocious production, middling singing,
This review is from: Berlioz: Les Troyens [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
I had high hopes for this performance after the same team's remarkable production of Wagner's Ring cycle. My viewing experience began unhelpfully in being unable to access the subtitles. But worse was to come in viewing the absurdities of the stage action. It would take a major essay to detail the many objectionable and ridiculous aspects of this production. I will describe a few to give the reader an idea of what is to be seen.
In the first act Cassandra is wheeled about in a wheelchair, seemingly disabled. On occasions she miraculously gets out of the wheelchair and walks around the stage with great ease. In the fourth act Didon is fitted out in a Minnie Mouse type wig making her look totally ridiculous. The costuming in general is a mixture of Star Wars futurism mixed with what seems like baseball uniforms and various other nonsensical getups. In the third act the action seems to be taking place within a computer, some of the chorus are dressed as computer chips and there seem to be representations of Trojan viruses. How clever!
The jewel of the opera is the fourth act ballet and love scene. This is totally mangled with the lovers suspended and hardly making eye contact. Aspects of the ballet scene, where the dancers perform in simple costumes and without distracting projections and scenery, is one of the rare moments of satisfaction.
In the face of all these directoral horrors, even the greatest musical values would be overwhelmed. As it is the orchestra play splendidly under the expert direction of Valery Gergiev. The singing in general is of a reasonable if hardly exceptional standard. Lance Ryan sounds strained on occasions and his french diction is hardly perfect.
It is a relief to return to the magnificent Gardiner / Chatalet version of this opera to realise what a simple, intelligently thought out production can achieve. The singing here is also vastly more satisfying. As we say in Australia, and I mean no disrespect to the noble canine species, this DVD is a real dog. I would avoid it at all costs.