S&H Opera Review

BERLIOZ The Trojans LSO and LSO Chorus/Sir Colin Davis with soloists The Barbican, 6 & 7 December 00 (PGW)

With the LSO & its Chorus fired with Sir Colin Davis's energy and life-long dedication to the cause of Berlioz, the several performances of The Trojans brought the LSO's Berlioz Odyssey 2000 to a magnificent culmination.

December in England is a risky time for singers and there was a musical chairs of last minute cast and role changes, with an indisposed Olga Boradino replaced by Michelle De Young (admired in Mahler at San Sebastian) who switched from Cassandra to Dido. On my two nights, Petra Lang [right]as Cassandra was the star, and I do not remember having been more wholly absorbed by the prophetess of doom in previous performances, whether staged or in concert (Beecham and a younger Colin Davis). Michelle De Young sang well, and looked magnificently queenly, but failed to move me with her abandonment leading to suicide. Toby Spence sang the marvellous Hylas song (substituting for Garrie Davislim) in a forthright manner, straight into one of the battery of microphones (for BBC & for LSO-Live) at stage front, but he failed to eclipse an enduring, treasured memory of Ian Bostridge, reflecting on life in his distant family home before falling asleep from, as I recall, somewhere towards the back of the orchestra; I hailed Bostridge then as a coming star before he became a household name soon afterwards.

Interesting how a small appearance can be the one never forgotten. In the Trojans at Carthage this time round, I would pick out Tigran Martirossian (a well focused bass) as Panthus, hurrying the departure for Italy[PICT]. Two other basses, Andrew Greenan & Roderick Earle, could not fail in the delicious comic dialogue of the two sentries deploring their enforced separation from their compliant local women; a cameo which is always a hit.

I enjoyed Ben Heppner as Aeneas rather less, but it is a strenuous and unrewarding part and we may have been disadvantaged by press seats rather too close, from where a lot of the singing sounded unnecessarily loud. In general, I would comment that with full words and translations supplied in the LSO's comprehensive programme book(s) - two for The Trojans - and the lights left up so that we could read them - (which often doesn't happen!) there was no need for singers to maintain a steady forte, whether for us in the hall or for the forest of microphones which dominated the picture.

I await the CDs with keen anticipation, having been greatly impressed by Tony Faulkner's engineering for previous LSO-Live releases.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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