Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Puccini - Manon Lescaut|
Actors: Astrid Weber, Heiko Trinsinger, Zurab Zurabishvili, Kouta Rsnen, Edward Randall
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Bare Bones, Creaking a Bit
Randy Buck | Brooklyn, NY USA | 10/31/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Puccini's beloved MANON LESCAUT is generally given a lace-valentine, sentimental production; here, the production team at Chemnitz substitutes a whole new set of opera cliches with their present mounting, to fairly tedious effect. There's a basic romanticism to this luscious material that the drabbest production can't completely kill, but director Ansgar Weigner certainly gives it the old college try. (Actually, I may be maligning him unfairly; there's a "conception" credit, whatever that might be, for one Dietrich Hilsdorf, who had the good sense to depart Chemnitz for happier climes somewhere along the way. There's a series of supplementary interviews on this dvd with personnel chiming in about this situation, and expounding on their various brilliant ideas; frankly, I wasn't impressed enough with the work on display to sit through any of them.) The singers are competent, if somewhat charmless. Astrid Weber acquits herself well-enough vocally, but looks lacquered and hard (what's with that soggy-potato-chip wig someone's thrust upon her?), and lacks the necessary girlish naivete; she's pragmatic from the git-go, which takes the edge off the final act. Speaking of which -- whose bright idea was it to present Puccini with a huggermugger escape for Manon and Des Grieux at the third act curtain? This confusing scuffle leads to the production's biggest groaner; the lovers don't make it to Louisiana, heading instead for their date with destiny deep inside a Paris sewer. Or subway platform. Or whatever -- some subterranean hellhole we've seen three dozen times before. The set's such a cliche, the viewer expects Jean Valjean or Patrice Chereau's Lulu to wander by. And -- hello???? If they're beneath the Parisian streets, what's to stop Des Grieux from fetching a couple of croque monsieurs and a nice, unassertive red to revive his inamorata? The costumes are the usual thrift-shop muddle (impossible to tell if we're in the 40's, 50's, or 60's; perhaps Manon's ankle straps are a clue); the conductor and orchestra emerge unscathed; and, in general, this opera's better served when Gerente looks older than either Manon or Des Grieux, which is not the case here. Nothing about this production's truly terrible, but nothing's special, either. Puccini completists only. For the rest of us, it's deja vu all over again."
A DESECRATION OF A MASTERPIECE
B. Martinez | 03/15/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Ditto the two reviewers above. I just this moment finished viewing this mess, and though I am still reeling from the beauty of the music, I cannot forgive the production. The first act ensemble staging antics were embarrassing to watch. The second act was a jumbled mess. What was with the intoxicated singer in male drag? The third act was almost passable until the final moments when Manon became a murderess at the last moment!! And the last act was so flawed I don't even want to open that can of worms or I'll be here writing all night, and I have much better things to do. One other thing, I think our other two reviewers were much to kind as to the singing abilities of Des Grieux. His "money" notes for me were actually painful. They were unsupported and almost shouted. I still have a bit of a sore throat after hearing them.
I don't mean to be mean spirited - but, come on!! This, to me, is Puccini's masterpiece. To see it so boldly desecrated infuriates me."
I want my money back!!!
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 01/15/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The previous reviewer has said it all, but in a much kinder way. This is a terrible perversion of Manon Lescaut. I can't think of anything as bad, except that awful M/22 Seraglio, but at least that was well staged and sung!!! I thought Astrid Weber was barely competent as a singer and a horrible actress. She displayed no innocence from the outset. On her way to a convent? Oh, come on! Geronte was played by Kouta Rasanen, who looks like he's barely old enough to vote. Zurab Zurabishvili, Des Grieux, would be okay as a concert singer, but his acting skills are poor. No one in the cast was the least bit likeable. The updated staging made the whole thing even more absurd. Does France still ship her harlots to Louisiana?
The only good thing I can say about this production is that Puccini's music was still excellent.