The BBC Proms 2023 season came to a close on Saturday night with a performance of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens, conducted by Dinis Sousa.
The opera, which tells the story of the fall of Troy and the subsequent journey of Aeneas to Carthage, is one of the longest and most challenging in the repertoire.
It was originally staged in 1863, but it has been rarely performed since then.
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Prom 64: Les Troyens review – trouble-hit concert-staging rises to the occasion magnificently
This concert performance was the culmination of a project that had been hit by a number of problems. The original conductor, John Eliot Gardiner, had to withdraw due to illness, and the staging was also scaled back. However, despite the challenges, the performance was a triumph.
The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique played with passion and precision, bringing out the full richness of Berlioz’s orchestration. The chorus was also excellent, delivering some of the opera’s most demanding choral passages with power and clarity.
The cast was also outstanding. Alice Coote was a towering presence as Cassandra, the doomed prophetess. Her singing was both technically brilliant and emotionally searing. Michael Spyres was also impressive as Aeneas, bringing a sense of nobility and humanity to the role.
Les Troyens: A New Triumphant Concert Staging
The concert performance did not have a traditional staging, but there were some minimal visual elements that helped to tell the story.
These included projections of paintings and sculptures, as well as some simple props. This approach allowed the focus to remain on the music, which was the real star of the show.
Overall, this was a magnificent performance of Les Troyens. It was a fitting end to a memorable Proms season, and it is a reminder of the power and beauty of Berlioz’s music.
Here are some additional thoughts on the performance:
- The conductor, Dinis Sousa, did an excellent job of bringing out the drama and excitement of the opera. He kept the pace brisk and never allowed the music to sag.
- The staging was simple but effective. The projections helped to create a sense of place and atmosphere, and the props were used to good effect.
- The cast was all excellent. Alice Coote was particularly memorable as Cassandra. Her singing was both powerful and moving.
Overall, this was a magnificent performance of Les Troyens. It was a triumph for the performers, who rose to the occasion despite the challenges they faced. It was also a triumph for the BBC Proms, which once again demonstrated its commitment to presenting the best in classical music.
I would highly recommend this performance to anyone who loves opera or classical music. It is a truly epic and unforgettable experience.
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