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One of the best opera releases of last year was a complete new recording of Berlioz’s Les Troyens. American conductor John Nelson is a Berlioz specialist and here he shows why and how: his grasp of the style and control of his forces in this live recording are miraculous. He makes perfect sense of Berlioz’ changes of mood and tempo, which in lesser hands can jolt, maintaining propulsion without being rushed, yet allowing his performers to languish over a detail or phrase. He also brings out the colours of this score in all its eccentric glory.

Nelson’s Strasbourg forces are exemplary, orchestra and choruses drilled to perfection, and his mainly Francophone cast luxurious. Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s Cassandra emotes thrillingly, and while Michael Spyres’ Enée might not have the stentorian heft that we expect, he provides elegance and precision. Perhaps best of all is Joyce DiDonato’s Didon, warm and sensual, her final pages truly the stuff of great tragedy.

FRANCIS MUZZU Read the full review on Agora Classica

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