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on 13 October 2013
What a wonderful work of art! I had high hopes for the new Troyens, and this production exceeded my expectations!
First and foremost, I expect a new work of art to provide me new visions, things I haven't seen before, and here the director David McVicar and the team do deliver plenty of food for the brain, and then some! The stunning sets are by Es Devlin, and they are wonderful trough the length of Les Troyens.
For example, look at the giant, mechanical Trojan horse, posing on the cover of the Blu-ray! It took over a year to cast all the pieces, attention to detail is mind-boggling.

Les Troyens is sometimes called a French counterpart to Wagner's Ring, and this production does remind me of the Robert Lepage's new Ring for the Met, in a sense that it also made a grand masterpiece truly work for me, for a first time. The conductor Antonio Pappano seems to have taken a similar (correct) approach to the music, as Levine and Luisi had done with the Ring, less historical baggage, more beauty.
There are many things, that can go less than perfectly with an opera production, but when it really works, there's nothing better. Here we have an example, where *everything* worked; the lighting is wonderful, as are the costumes (all 100+ of them!). The dance choreographies are contemporary, bold, and exciting, alone worth more than the price of this marvelous Blu-ray. The video direction is faultless, it's all good.
The singing is of very high quality, and all the singers look their parts, a very important factor with a filmed production. The ROH orchestra is in a great form, as well.

And then there is the technical quality. This Blu-ray (2 of them) has the best image quality I have seen on a regular 1080 resolution Blu-ray disc, and by some margin.
I can only speculate, but I'd have to guess, that the ROH has acquired 4K resolution cameras, and the video has then been downscaled to 1080i. The image is truly striking, it's simultaneously pin-sharp and smooth-looking; after seeing this, regular Blu-rays look rather grainy.
The blacks are inky, shadow detail is good, colors are very saturated, and there's virtually no noise in the image. The image looks simply stunning, when projected to wall-size.
I really enjoyed the sound quality, as well. The orchestra has been recorded in great detail, with the sound stage close to the listener, a logical choice, when viewing the proceedings at a close range.
The grand choral scenes (chorus master Renato Balsadonna) were recorded with great skill, the sound is layered and 3-dimensional. There's no oppressive, bulky weight, that can burden the listener with these types of scenes. Full points!

The opera comes in a beautiful 2 disc boxed set, with an 80-page booklet. The disc production is great, as well, the opera can be started with an introduction by Pappano, and you don't have to surf the menus to choose English subs and DTS sound, they have been pre-selected (other options are available). Extra materials are good, again.

I rate this production tied 1st, with about 10 other great productions, for the best opera production I have seen. Two of those 10 are also directed by McVicar, Giulio Cesare in Glyndebourne, and Salome with ROH, both are available as Opus Arte Blu-rays. None of those Blu-rays have the technical quality of this one, though, so I have to rate this as the best Blu-ray currently available.
It's also a great, easily accessible opera, and a good, beautiful gift item, that would also work as a good introduction to opera
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on 10 November 2013
I was fortunate enough to attend the concert performance of Les Troyens at the 2012 Proms, with the same forces as recorded here. That was impressive enough, but this completely blew me away.

First of all, there is the staging. The visuals are quite simply superb, and the fire-breathing horse will make your jaw drop!

Then the cast. Bryan Hymel stepped in for an indisposed Jonas Kaufmann, and his final act aria brought a standing ovation both in the Royal Albert Hall and here. His singing is exemplary throughout, and his chemistry with Eva-Maria Westbroek as Dido is palpable.

For me, though, the standout performance comes from Anna Caterina Antonacci as Cassandra. Her portrayal of the prophetess doomed never to be believed was electrifying, both visually and vocally.

The lesser roles were all well sung, and Antonio Pappano conducted the ROH Orchestra with purpose and a real understanding of Berlioz's music.

This production is a triumph from start to finish, and has to be seen to be appreciated. A must-buy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 October 2013
Berlioz never saw his epic creation performed in full during his lifetime, but we now have Blu-ray releases of no less than three complete productions of Les Troyens to be able to judge the quality of the work. Previously we had the revelatory 2003 Châtelet production in Paris (in an impressive account conducted by John Eliot Gardiner) and the rather less successful attempt to modernise the opera by La Fura dels Baus in the 2009 Valencia production. A comparison between the two suggests that if it's not necessarily a case of less is more, it is nonetheless important to strike a balance that captures the extravagance and dynamic of the distinct styles of the two parts of the work while at the same time also living up to the epic grandeur that it represents. David McVicar therefore had quite a challenge in this new major production of the work for the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and while it didn't exactly meet with universal critical acclaim at the time, the weaknesses in the production seem rather less pronounced when viewed at home.

The fact that David McVicar and set designer Es Devlin go for their familiar industrial Steampunk style in the first act with weapons and military uniforms that are clearly not related to Ancient Greek setting is neither here nor there. As ever with McVicar, the detail is less important than the overall impact, and both the Troy and Carthage scenes aim for a mood and grandeur of scale that is commensurate with the work itself. The tone of the first half starts dark and gets darker still, the short-lived celebrations of the Trojans giving way to ceremonial mourning, followed by dire premonitions of doom from an increasingly hysterical Cassandra and concluding with the mass suicide of the Trojan women as the warriors flee for Italy, the city having been breached by the Greek soldiers through the ruse of the horse. It's the huge mechanical construction of the Trojan Horse that is the imposing image of the first half and it's suitably impressive. The direction is fairly static in this section, but it gives room to appreciate the magnificent musical construction of the first two acts, and allows Anna Caterina Antonacci to dominate as Cassandra.

The warmth of tone and presentation of the Trojans in Carthage section is in marked contrast to the darkness of the first half, but Berlioz's arrangements are no less epic in his depiction of the utopian society of Carthage under the rule of their beloved Queen Dido. Even Bryan Hymel, who doesn't quite manage to rise above the dramatic power of the Troy section as Aeneas, seems to find the North African climate more to his liking. The challenges of the second half of Les Troyens however lie in the presentation of those sentiments, and that isn't quite so well achieved as the first half. While there's much that's beautiful about Berlioz's scoring for these scenes, all the ballets and the celebratory love-fests can however be a little bit too much. McVicar and designer Es Devlin's at least achieve all the epic grandeur and warmth for Carthage that is suggested in the score, but they can't find any way to make the longeurs in Act III sufficiently interesting. There is however still a lot to enjoy musically and in the singing during the final three acts and it's all superbly put across by the Royal Opera House Orchestra under Antonio Pappano's direction.

As Dido, Eva-Maria Westbroek sings beautifully and is excellent at conveying the dilemma of the Carthaginian Queen over her feelings for Aeneas and her promise to remain faithful to the memory of her dead husband. Westbroek has a fullness of tone and sufficient power in her soprano, but not quite the necessary colour that you would normally get from a mezzo-soprano in the role. This is particularly noticeable for the lack of sufficient and complementary contrast that ought to be there in her 'Nuit d'ivresse et d'extase infinie' duet with Hymel - a key moment in their relationship which never really comes across here as it should. There are also some beautiful sounds coming here from Brindley Sherratt's concerned Narbal and Hanna Hipp's devoted Anna, both providing the necessary counterweight to Dido's mental disintegration in the closing acts. Masterfully orchestrated in musical and dramatic terms by Berlioz, Hylas's song of longing for home at the beginning of Act Five is sweetly sung by Ed Lyon, combining well with the act of betrayal between Dido and Aeneas that is more convincing than their romance. It ensures that the conclusion at least is sufficiently tragic.

The Royal Opera House's Les Troyens is handsomely packaged for its 2-disc Blu-ray release. The two discs are contained in a digipak that is slipcased with a large booklet with several programme-length articles and a full detailed synopsis by David McVicar. The four and a half hour opera is evenly divided across the two discs, not according to the two distinct parts. Disc One has the first three Acts, which takes in Fall of Troy (Act I and II) the first act of The Trojans in Carthage (Act III). Disc Two has the final two Acts (IV and V). Antonio Pappano provides introductions at the start of the opera and during the 'interval' sections (Before Act III and before Act V). The opera can be played with these introductions included or without. There is also a featurette that looks at Es Devlin's set designs, an excerpt from Pappano's 'Insights' look at the opera and a Cast Gallery. The BD is all-region, subtitles are in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Korean.
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on 15 December 2013
Most probably the best Les Troyens performance on dvd/bluray. You'll love every bit of it. Above all the staging by Carsen and the singing by Hymel, Antonacci and Westbroek. Hymel is most probably the best Enee of our times and definitely the best french-repertoire tenor we've got. He excels in this last minute replacement (to Jonas Kaufmann who ducked out) and gives a stunning performance - can't choose whether I prefer this Inutiles Regrets or the one he sang at the MET and was HD'd worldwide but this guy knows how to give you a goosebump (or two). Superlatives only for Antonacci and Westbroek (can't think of a better Cassandra and Didon currently). No need to mention that Tony Pappano's job here is truly amazing as well.

Double bluray with a beautiful packaging and booklet. Worth every penny of it.
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on 6 September 2014
I was fortunate enough to attend this performance on the night it was filmed. It was a wonderful experience in the opera house and this blu-ray disc does it full justice. The production is spectacular but not distracting from the wonderful performances. Brian Hymel is excellent as Aeneas and is matched by Eva-Maria Westbroek (Dido) and Anna Caterina Antonacci (Cassandra). Anthonio Papanno and the ROH orchestra are outstanding.
The colossal horse which bursts into flames and the amazing set for Carthage are only two of the highlights of the staging but it is pitch perfect all the way through.
Excellent sound and picture quality make this a top recommendation.
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VINE VOICEon 7 December 2013
There was much initial excitement about this production which originally was to have Jonas Kaufmann as Enee. In the theatre the old adage that less is more had been thrown out the window and thousands upon thousands of pounds had been lavished unnecessarily on a spectacle that was more irritating than satisfying. Had the excesses of the production been balanced by excellent singing then that might have helped but the unfocussed Cassandra of Antonacci got things off to a bad start. Hymel and Westbroeck were very fine as Enee and Didon, but ultimately the production sank under the weight of its excess. The Blu Ray is crystal clear and the sound is excellent. Those wishing a simpler and to my mind finer production should look for the Chatelet production which has an excellent cast including Susan Graham as a superb Didon, also available on Blu Ray. Afficionados of this great opera may also hope that the recent excellent production at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin may find its way to DVD. There was a case of simplicity producing fantastic results and , Covent Garden please note, at much smaller cost.
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on 24 May 2014
this item is very good quality, the item was presented as the best choise by a very good classical critical book. and it's true, sounds are great
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on 11 November 2013
This is the third Video I have of Les Troyens and is by far the best. The staging is excellent, making the opera a really exciting experience. The singers are fine actors as well as extremely capable vocalists, and the conducting moves all along in an exciting manner. A great opera and a great show.
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on 14 November 2013
This recording seems to be better that the Prom that was done of it. If it wasn't for the Gardiner version this would be an easy first choice. The grouping of the acts is a little strange.
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