OP0005. LES TROYENS, Live Performance, 17 Oct., 1976, w.Albrecht Cond. Vienna Staatsoper Ensemble; Guy Chauvet, Christa Ludwig, Helga Dernesch, Wolfgang Schöne, Margarita Lilowa, etc; LES TROYENS - Excerpts, Live Performance, 1968, w.Colin Davis Cond. New Philharmonia Orch.; Josephine Veasey & Peter Glossop. (Portugal) 3-Gala 100.609. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8712177034437
“In over a hundred years of recording history, there have been no more than forty recordings of Berlioz’s epic masterpiece in any form – excerpts, complete, in French, English and several other languages – and there are reasons for that comparative paucity of output. Of those, only two are complete studio recordings in French, as Scherchen’s 1952 set is just Part 2, LES TROYENS À CARTHAGE. There are, however, also a couple of complete, live, modern recordings in French, whose digital sound is virtually as good as the studio versions; otherwise, despite individual gems, the catalogue offers a limited choice if you apply the reasonable criteria of wanting a complete performance in good sound performed in French by first-rate singers. Fortunately, we are not bereft of worthy accounts: those remaining options are generally attractive and there is also a range of excellent supplementary recordings.
LES TROYENS is challenging to stage as well as sing; it essentially combines two operas running for a total of four hours and as such a stage production is at least the equivalent of mounting GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG - and you need two prima donnas, not just one. I am of the not especially controversial opinion that the best music is in the second half of an opera, which is why that was first performed. The Trojan first part is necessarily more jagged and violent apart from interludes such as the lovely duet between Cassandre and Chorèbe, whereas the Carthage action contains more which is lyrical or reflective. The opera is sometimes presented in those two halves over two evenings but it's surely best to hear the whole thing in its entire sweep. Opportunities to see it in the opera house are rare; even Berlioz himself never got to see it staged in its entirety, only the last three Acts, as LES TROYENS À CARTHAGE - and those were still cut. For example, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, struggled to assemble a cast for their last production in 2012 and had not previously mounted the opera in four decades.
Berlioz conceived LES TROYENS as a French Grand Opera and it is diminished by any notions of performing it in ‘chamber style’ with smaller-voiced singers. Berlioz surely had a tenor of the Georges Thill type in mind for Aeneas, a special category of voice called ‘lyric-dramatic’; seek out his vintage recordings if you want to hear the ideal voice-type in this role, both virile and refined - his final top B in ‘Inutiles regrets’ is stunning. Of course LES TROYENS has its lyrical moments – as does the RING – and the tenor must be able to sing softly, but it needs to be performed by heroic voices and maintain a sense of epic scale. I also think it must be sung in French if the rhythms of Berlioz’s own libretto, based on his reading of Virgil, are to be properly embedded within his music. I am a self-confessed Berlioz devotée and am proud of the contribution British musicians such as Beecham, Colin Davis, Alexander Gibson and Janet Baker have made to reviving and presenting his music to a grateful public but resist that influencing my responses.”
- Ralph Moore, MusicWebInternational
“There are great singers, and there are great artists. A great singer needs an exceptional voice, a masterful technique and the musicianship to conquer the most challenging repertoire. A true artist, of course, possesses these attributes, but there is something more - a soul-deep connection to the expressive content of the music; a sort of telepathic sympathy with the composer and a yearning to communicate that fire of inspiration to anyone who will listen. Christa Ludwig was blessed with all these things, and the opera world has been blessed in turn by her unerring ability to understand the characters she played, and to carry their joys and sorrows to the audience with such humanity and tenderness that we could not help taking her into our hearts. The beauty, warmth and radiance of her instrument seem inseparable from the beauty, warmth and radiance of the human spirit that breathes forth that wondrous sound. She made thrilling forays into dramatic-soprano territory, singing the Marschallin as well as Octavian in DER ROSENKAVALIER and giving performances of Leonore in FIDELIO that are now the stuff of legend. Perhaps most famously, she partnered her then-husband Walter Berry as the Dyer's Wife in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN.
Her Met début in 1959, as Cherubino, was not a great triumph, but by the time she bade farewell to the house, as Fricka in 1993 - her 119 performances of fifteen roles had made her one of the most beloved artists in the company's history.”
- Louise T. Guinther, OPERA NEWS, April 2014
"French tenor Guy Chauvet in 1954 he was co-winner of a tenor competition in Cannes, along with Alain Vanzo, Gustave Botiaux, Tony Poncet, and Roger Gardes - a pretty impressive assemblage of talent! Chauvet made his Paris OpÃ©ra debut in 1959, starting with comprimario parts, finally advancing to lead roles. He soon established himself as an important presence, both in France and, ultimately, in many of the world's other major opera houses. He sang numerous roles in the French and Italian repertoire, and became particularly well-known for such heroic parts as Aeneas and Samson.
Guy Chauvet was without question a talented singer, and one who filled a pressing need during a time when the grand tradition of the French heroic tenor was in decline. Typical of this singer's work in general, the diction is idiomatic and crystal-clear....Chauvet displays all of the other qualities that are the heart and soul of great French tenor singing - a seamless legato, a masterful application of the mixed voice, and an ideal balance between elegance and passion. It's also quite impressive to hear Chauvet demonstrate an ease and mastery of style and technique in music ranging from the 18th century to verismo. And if all of these attributes inspire comparison to Chauvet's great predecessor, Georges Thill, the singing on this disc justifies such comparisons. We hear some absolutely first-rate French tenor singing. Highly recommended."
- K. M., classicalcdreview, Sept., 2004