Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Massenet - Manon / Fleming Alvarez Vernhes Chaignaud Lopez-Cobos Paris Opera|
Actors: Renee Fleming, Marcelo Alvarez, Jean-Luc Chaignaud, Michel Sénéchal, Alain Vernhes
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
This DVD introduces a production by Gilbert Deflo, which had its first performance at the Bastille opera in Paris in June 1997, conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos. It was an unforgettable experience thanks to the splendid hist... more »
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Renée Fleming and Marcelo Álvarez Triumph
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 10/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far this is the only 'Manon' to make it to DVD. But you really don't have to wait for a better one to come along; it will likely be the one to have for a long time. It comes from a June 2001 performance at the Opéra National National de Paris/Opéra Bastille and stars Renée Fleming as Manon and Marcelo Álvarez as des Grieux.Fleming says that Manon is one of her favorite roles, and I can believe it. She invests the character with a good deal of feeling, and although she seems a little old and not quite giddy enough to be playing the simple school-girl in Act I, she gets better and better as the action proceeds. Her singing, of course, is nonpareil. Indeed, for me the action doesn't really catch fire until the final scene of Act II (although 'Nous vivrons à Paris,' in Act I, is exciting and beautifully sung by the young lovers) when Manon contemplates giving up des Grieux and letting him return to his family, in 'Adieu, notre petite table,' followed by des Grieux's 'En fermant les yeux,' sung gorgeously by Álvarez.The staging triumphs in the two 'public' scenes--the Cours la Reine scene (Act III, 1) and the gambling scene at the Hotel Transylvanie (Act IV). Each of these scenes is so full of visual stimulation that it might even be easy to miss the main action except for the expert television direction of François Roussilon. The baroque-style ballet (choreography by Ana Yepes, and occurring in the Cours la Reine scene) is an engaging use of the music--a larger group of formal dancers alternating with a trio of solo dancers, each movement fitting Massenet's expert pastiche of 18th-century music perfectly.The scene (III,1) between the hero's father, Comte des Grieux (sung sympathetically by Alain Vernhes) and Manon is touching and sets up the reconciliation (III, 2) at St. Sulpice between the new Abbé des Grieux (whose 'Ah, fuyez douce image' brings tears to one's eyes) and Manon. If only they could have known that being in love and managing one's money often don't go together! The final act when des Grieux is gotten off by his father from charges of cheating but Manon is found guilty and about to be deported is heartbreaking, and again Fleming and Álvarez outdo themselves.Lescaut is sung and acted effectively by Jean-Luc Chaignaud, de Brétigny by Franck Ferrari. It was wonderful to see the venerable Michel Sénéchal as the old roué, Guillot de Morfontaine; the old rascal can still act up a storm.The spectacularly talented Jésus Lopez-Cobos led the musical forces brilliantly. I imagine symphony patrons in Cincinnati still mourn his departure from their city. Sets and costumes, brilliantly effective and richly sumptuous, are by William Orlandi. The inventive staging is by Gilbert Deflo. I will not forget any of the wonderful recorded Manons I've treasured over the years. My first was Janine Micheau in an otherwise dreadful recording from the 50s. I've more recently come to value the 1929 Opéra-Comique recording with Germaine Féraldy (Manon) and Joseph Rogatchewsky (des Grieux), conducted by Elie Cohen. And the still wonderful recording with Beverly Sills and Nicolai Gedda. I missed the one with Alfredo Kraus and Ileana Cotrubas, but more recently liked, although a little less, the Italianate 'Manon' with Gheorghiu and Alagna.Do not hesitate. This will be the 'Manon' to have for, I expect, years to come. It captures one of Renée Fleming's signature roles and shows off one of our rising tenors, Marcelo Álvarez, in a marvelous performance.2 DVD discs, TT=164 minsScott Morrison"
An Excellent "Manon"
Jon M. De Benedictis | Fairfield, CT United States | 11/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are certain operas like, say, Verdi's "Don Carlo" or "Il Trovatore," that are true ensemble pieces. It requires gutsy singing from several principals and yet, if say the mezzo or the tenor is a tad on the weak side, there is still enough otherwise to make the performance enjoyable. And then there are opera's like Massenet's "Manon," which places high singing and acting demands on just two singers, and boy do they have a hell of a lot to sing!
It's for this reason, I think, that "Manon" isn't performed quite as often. It falls completely flat without an excellent soprano and tenor. Sure, there is some singing for the baritone and bass, but nobody sees this opera for them. This is the soprano and tenors show!
Having said that, this production, taped in Paris just two years ago, is excellent! Renee Fleming is definitely hit-or-miss with many of the roles she selects these days, but here she is right on the money. In fact, this is some of her finest singing I have heard. Her affinity for the role is obvious and she is thoroughly convincing as an actress. Fleming's physical beauty and excellent facial expressions certainly help in making her Manon a true, dangerous beauty.
I've never been a huge fan of tenor Marcelo Alvarez. While his voice is pleasant, I find him to be rather underwhelming. I was pleasantly surprised here, though. In this performance, he sings with more passion and fire than I have ever heard him sing.
If only he could work on his stage presence! Clearly not an actor, Alvarez struts around the stage looking rather goofy and clumsy at all times. His costume in the first acts, doesnt't help much! (he looks like he has a neckbrace on!). All in all though, hs performance is terrific and while I'd much prefer Alagna or Marcello Giordani in this role, Alvarez comes through and definitely thrills.
The supporting cast is good, particularly Vernhes as Des Grieux's father and Jesus Lopez-Cobos' conducting is solid.
The production is stark and the stage is barren, but it works, particularly in the last scene when the only bit of scenery present is a lone star in the sky.
The only down side to this DVD is trying to find it! As I write this review, Amazon and all it's sellers have none in stock. I was lucky to find it at a store nearby. It seems to have gone out-of-print a mere two weeks after it released. This is quite a shame, because this is a great DVD for an opera lover."
Exquisite Manon: Fleming & Alvarez in top form
Emma de Soleil | On a holiday In Ibiza, then back to the UK for stu | 05/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first time I saw this performance was actually on the big screen for it was a part of an opera-festival in Vienna. My memories weren't deceiving me here. Not since the days of de los Angeles (Still a fave) have I been as enchanted with a Manon. Renee Fleming portrays both the innocent girl as well as the corrupted seductress perfectly. Her voice is like a sensual perfume, gorgeous, warm and bursting with colours and emnotions. (I don't get much of Manon's corruption & cunning from de los Angeles, Freni or Cotrubas. Sills on the other hand manages a balance of supreme artistry but her voice is less luxurious than Fleming's) Manon is not an innocent with a pretty sweet voice, Manon is first of all a weak, greedy & seductive woman. (Her innocence is soon gone) & Fleming portrays that with luxurious colours, wonderful FRench diction (de los Angeles & Vallin beat her there though) and exquisite pacing. Her costumes are GORGEOUS & fittingly garish (For a courtesan) as is her make-up. I also love that she's not stick-thin but has womanly curves, in the 18th century they preferred women like that btw.
Alvarez is even better when it comes to the French style, yet his acting (Vocal & physical) is a bit wooden, maybe on purpose, 'cause the role ain't a seducer. He's brilliant in the church-scene, exquisite in the final scene where he phrases emotionally & sings with a gorgeous timbre that so fits des Grieux's nature.
The production is lovely, no Euro-Trash anywhere. Lopez Cobos, a veteran, conducts with fire & style, the rest of the cast is great as well. A must buy for Fleming fans & beyond."
A Night at the Opera
F. S. L'hoir | Irvine, CA | 07/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"And a very satisfying one too!
Massenet's music is sublime; the satin-voiced Renee Fleming portrays a charming Manon and Marcelo Alvarez, a convincing Des Grieux (although no one can live up to my childhood memories of seeing the great Brazilian soprano Bidu Sayao and Giuseppe Di Stefano in the leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera). The highlight for me was Alvarez's heart-breaking rendition of "Ah, fuyez, douce image!" as Des Grieux waits to take his vows at Saint Sulpice. The red-haired Fleming is stunning in the title role, but she presents such a picture of health that I had to suspend my disbelief when she is supposed to be dying on the rode to Le Havre. This is partly the fault of the costumer, who dressed her in shiny peacock blue satin (supposed to be the tattered remnants left over from the Hotel de Transylvanie, when she was arrested; because of its sheen, the costume doesn't look quite tattered enough.).
For the most part, William Orlandi's costumes are reminiscent of a Watteau or Fragonard painting, and I suppose it was excusable to conceive the scenes at Cours la Reine in commedia dell'arte Venetian costumes a la Tiepolo. However, I disliked Orlandi's use of scarlet, a color that seems not only anachronistic for a woman in the early 18th century but also rather obvious on a symbolic level, especially when Manon doffs her black domino in Saint Sulpice (One would think that Des Grieux might think twice about leaving the church for such a patently scarlet woman!). I also think that that blue is not the most effective choice of color for a woman who is obsessed with gold in the gambling scene (I recall Sayao wearing gold watered silk reminiscent of the gown worn by Mme. de la Pompadour in Francois Boucher's portrait.). Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to see a production that utilizes traditional costumes instead of "modern" representations that turn up in some productions (One thinks of the flannel nightgowns and pillows for the water nymphs in "Roussalka"!).
The supporting cast is excellent, particularly Alain Vernhes in what can be the thankless role of the Count Des Grieux, and Michel Senechal as the old roue Guillot de Mortfontaine.
Despite the above reservations, this production is on the whole excellent, and the ending left my cheeks wet with tears."