Synopsis by Nathan Southern
French romantic composer Hector Berlioz originally adapted his signature work and apotheosis, the hugely-scaled opera Les Troyens, from Virgil's Aenid. The opera, like its source, weaves together an epic tale of the drifter Aeneas and his ultimate foundation of Rome -- an act that, in the playwright's hands, tied Judaeo-Christendom to a national Roman legacy of ancient heroes and myths. This release features a recording of a live performance of Les Troyens by the Salzburg Opera under two circumstances that have since become passé: Gerard Mortier conducts, during his last season in Salzburg, and the late Herbert Wernicke directs the stage production itself, which became his final effort. The two leads are in fact American. Diva Deborah Polaski -- a soprano -- doubles as Dido and Cassandra, while tenor Jon Villars portrays Aeneas. The Salzburg Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris provide musical accompaniment.