Seeing is believing
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 10/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought and listened to the old Cascavelle recording of this work and was not impressed or won over. It just shows how important it is for at least some operas to be seen. I am VERY impressed by the present DVD. The musical side of things is wonderful. But now to see the old story of Manon and her DesGrieux acted out in the present brings out the sheer power of this work. This production won the Olivier prize and certainly deserves it. Don't be afraid of serialism. The opera is actually closer to Stravinsky than Schoenberg. Henze only uses serial methods for the lovers as they fall deeper and deeper into their delusion. For an exhilirating evening of theater check this out."
Henze the magician
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 12/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A magnificent score by Hans Werner Henze, and a mesmerizing production of it. The ingenious stage design is narcotic: '50s deco-inspired, lean-and-gleam Hopperesque economy treated with gorgeous colors, displaying an intimate relationship to the score itself. Henze's atmospheric colors are embodied in stage and set design, even in the subtly charged costuming. A decayed eroticism lurks, suggests, but never shows its full face. The piece progresses to warm deep colors as if by sadness. I find in Henze's wondrous scores an heir more of Stravinsky than Schoenberg. His unique fusion of serialism and tonality finds new ground in Boulevard Solitude. The singers are excellent. An heroic job by Swedish tenor Par Lindskog as Armand, his sturdy musicianship and beautifully polished tone never flag. Laura Aikin, a great Lulu in European houses, sings Manon wrenchingly, with seductive pianissimos and a terrific sense of the stage. Henze plies their relationship with erotic and terrifying music, and beautiful silences. Like Stravinsky, Henze's every musical gesture is scrupulously orchestrated to make dazzling musical beauty. Manon's character ends unsorry, and Henze gives her much of his amazing diaphanous music. His scores are never cloying or dismissive; attuned to theatricality like an alchemist, Henze's art is intense, profound and moving. Big recommendation for a really fine night at the theatre. The 80 year old composer, present for the performance, is cheered effusively at the end by a thrilled Liceu Theatre audience in Barcelona. You won't be disappointed."
RALPH P. GRAY | New york, NY United States | 03/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is my first exposure to Henze. I was skeptical at first, but I was won over - less by the music itself than by the whole package. The fit between music and production seems fine to me. Yes, there are no memorable tunes - so what else is new with modern music? But the whole thing works nicely. The cast is good too although closeups don't exactly help make the 2 lovers look as young as they are supposed to be. Not all that big a quibble."