Laura Demilio | 02/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MIRIAM GAUCI infuses this sumptuous production with STELLAR perfection! Brilliant set and costume design, but the focus always remains on this gifted artist. The final act - always somewhat of a 'let down' does not disappoint with its highly stylized 'view' of the American desert - neatly counterpointing the opulent reflections of European splendor [the salon sequences].It is not a memorable score - there have been better, but for the purist - this one's an eye-opener of just how far one could go without flaunting bad taste!Utterly charming and unforgettable once viewed - tech credits are fine, especially the cinematography."
It stunk on ice
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 09/30/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen. To begin with, it is pronounced "Mano" not "Manown." It's French. It most certainly is a memorable score, I find it beautiful and haunting, and the last act is not a let down (these last two comments based on the previous reviewer's remarks), except in this production. Manon's rich lover was a grotesque, absurd, silly, comic opera clown, and the idea she would ever have touched him for any amount of money is unreal and farcical. That in fact describes the sets and the additions to the entire opera. I had to force myself to watch the last 3 acts, and they stunk. Just like the 1st one. There were clowns with funny faces and long umbrellas dancing around singing for no apparent reason where there should have been the courtyard of a country inn (Act 1). It was I suppose all meant to be terrible modern, the sets were ridiculous, NOT sumptuous but surrealistic, unrealistic and stupid. They were colorful, I'll give them that. The ludicrous extras were so TOTAL that without the printed synopses that began each act, no one unfamiliar with the story could possibly have known what was happening. And the last act's scenery made no sense at all. They were supposed to be abandoned in a desert, so what was all this garbage? Very meaningful, I'm sure. And when Manon opened a glowing (red) jewel box and began putting on jewelry I thought it had gone from the ridiculous to the foolish. I suppose the singing was acceptable, I wouldn't give it any more than that, but who could tell with all the distracting superfluous nonsense going on. It was a thread of feeling and plot obfuscated by a lot of silly inappropriate crap. I hated it. Now what do I do with this $30 DVD? I bought it because I wanted to see some young singers play the leads. They weren't particularly young, either."
Production Stunk; Puccini Cringes
Laura Demilio | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 05/09/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"What nonsense, what appalling garbage this Manon Lescaut is. I could NOT pay attention to the singing because I was so distracted not only by the loud stage echo, but the idiotic sets. I can't even find bad enough eptithets to fling upon this production. It was the worst piece of dreck I've ever seen in an opera. It made me queasy to look at the slanting, overwhelming scenery, the glaringly ugly costumes, the unfunny clownishness of the extras prancing around with their parasols. Each scene was more garish and ludicrous than the last, and the Louisiana finale was the topper - if Manon had access to a box of jewels - or had them on her in the first place - she could have bribed her way from being deported, or at the very least, if she'd been hiding them on her all along for protection, when she and Des Grieux were abandoned in the wilderness wouldn't one think that even a greedy, self-absorbed girl like her would have SOLD those jewels long before, in order to either buy passage back to France or at least get comfortable accommodations in a settlement? I know it was just supposed to be a "symbolic" gesture, representing probably Manon's hallucination, but come on, how stupid is the audience? If this Manon Lescaut was beautifully sung, I missed the whole thing, I was so disgusted by the stupid show.
The Muti performance of the other new Manon Lescaut on DVD has much more realistic, belieavable scenery and certainly a more heartfelt performance; I was sure it was as well if not better sung simply because nothing got in the way of it.
I, too, am wondering how to get rid of an overly expensive DVD."