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Without the sets and props, however, the performers are left to react to one another and not to an environment. This limits them during those portions of Manon that involve events rather than reflection, and can stultify blocking. Deflo's ensemble doesn't use the hotel dinner table for anything other than seating, which is just as well, since there are only a few empty plates and glasses on it. The singers often have nothing to look at or focus upon when alone on stage, so they turn out to the audience. At least Manon gets her petite table when she sings her farewell to it in act II, but not infrequently the very barrenness of the surroundings are paradoxically a presence that gets in the way of acting.
The performances are exceptional. Alvarez's voice had darkened a bit by the time he did this Des Grieux, a few years before he carefully moved into the lirico spinto repertoire. There is still tenderness and a scrupulously bowed line to his "En fermant les yeux," while "Ah! fuyez, douce image" avoids undifferentiated passion to mirror the shifting emotions of text and music. His acting is competent, if not inspired. Fleming is excellent, though idiosyncratic. The innate richness of her voice makes it difficult to fully depict Manon's fragility--as does her occasional resort to a hollow tone, entirely out of sync with the expressive needs of the moment--but she has excellent coloratura and enunciation, good acting capability, and a rare grasp of character.
Secondary parts are similarly cast from strength. Rich-voiced Jean-Luc Chaignaud makes a fine, strong Lescaut. Michel Sénéchal's age doesn't stand in the way of delivering an outstanding Guillot. He has no effective chest resonance left, but offers an acting lesson to anybody who cares to watch. López-Cobos isn't the most exciting or focused of conductors, but the rest of the cast performs at an inspired level. It only remains to mention that the Opera Ballet in act III is handled brilliantly, with colorful period costumes and formal Baroque dance sequences.
Sound formats include PCM stereo, and Dolby Digital 5.1. The picture format ratio is 16:9, and subtitles are presented in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Chinese.
This is definitely one of the more interesting versions of Manon to appear in some time. I like the overall design concept, despite my reservations expressed above, and find both costuming and lighting superior. The cast is a very fine one whose members were obviously "on" during this performance, and the results make for a memorable evening. -- Fanfare, Barry Brenesal, December 8, 2009
Just received it today and have not had a chance to play it. No doubt though it will reach my expectations.Published 8 months ago by Robin Hames
Box was broken. At the last act there a silence fo a few seconds while they were siging. I was a little dispointed with this one. I ordered anther Manon With Villazon and Netrebko. Read morePublished on July 15, 2013 by Jacqueline Lefrançois