Massenet - Manon / Fleming, Alvarez, Vernhes, Chaignaud, Lopez-Cobos, Paris Opera

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Product Description

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 historical costumes by William Orlando, the minimal d¨¦cor, the sophisticated lighting as well as the musical excellence of the performers. It was also due to the charisma of Ren¨¦e Fleming; she confessed in an interview, "I think Manon is my favorite role. I love French music, it is so elegant and delicate stylistically. It has both dramatic and lyrical elements." Marcelo Alvarez was brilliant in the role of the Chevalier des Grieux, and among the other artists were Jean-Luc Chaignaud as Lescaut, Alain Vernhes as the Comte des Grieux, Michel S¨¦n¨¦chal as Guillot de Morfontaine and the choir and orchestra of l'Op¨¦ra de Paris.

Customer Reviews:

  • An excellent performance of a great opera
    This is an excellent performance. Although the sets are minimal, they are effective. The only thing that was disappointing was the third act ballet. I highly recommend this DVD....more info
  • sad but beautiful...
    The opera of melancholy, and that's Massenet and I love it! And oh,
    I'm a Fleming fan, also I like Alvarez. This Manon is preferable to
    Puccini's prolonged piece--
    so it's heartbreakingly recommended......more info
  • Outstanding!
    Renee Fleming is at her very best, and I rank this DVD in the top ten of Operas that all lovers of this venue should own. Now, if the Met will just release her other recent works, we can enjoy the Fleming talents to the full....more info
  • Disappointing singing in beautiful production
    This Manon looks beautiful and I enjoyed watching the great costumes and scenery, but I was very disappointed with the singers. Marcelo Alvarez has good high notes but this does not seem to be a good role for him. Renee Fleming sings beautifully in places, but her vocal mannerisms are very apparent, there are slurps, swooning, and very fussy delivery. Also, she does not look convincing as a young girl in the first act, and looks very frumpy in the Adieu aria. Her acting is servicable, she seems to be relying on her glamour instead, but I admit I was more impressed by her gowns than her performance. Hopefully there will be a new DVD of Manon, possibly with Vargas and one of the French sopranos like Dessay. ...more info
  • Great performances all around
    I just love the performances from this DVD. Such great quality too! I just really wish this didn't have such a minimalist aspect. I would've really liked some scenery and much more than a blackdrop. And the chorus just stood there the whole time and did nothing. But Fleming just broke my heart. She understands Manon as well as any Manon ever will. And I really love those Fleming high notes. She hits a high D at least three times and I think one high Eb -- all just greatly! Alvarez has the best high D's I've ever heard. He is one of the finest tenors of this generation, if not the best. Jean-Luc Chaignaud (Lescaut) was really quite animated and good! This role really suits him.

    The whole production was just really really well-acted and well-sung. Not complaints as far as the talent was concerned. But I'm telling you, a good set would have added soooo much more.

    If I want to see the best Manon since Beverly Sills (a great vidoe is out of that by the way!!), buy this. Fleming is Sills' successor in this role....more info
  • A splendid evening in the theatre...
    Quite an extraordinary, moving and affecting production. A remarkable accomplishment by Renee Fleming, who is ravashing and captivating in the role, perhaps like no other since Sills. Alvarez is a solid partner, with supporting roles all more than adequately handled. The Paris Opera orchestra is superb under Lopez-Cobos. The magnificent period costumes are all lovely, and wonderfully accented by a rather minimalistic, but effective, stage setting. Special kudos to both the stage and video director for bringing a special focus and clarity to key scenes. Technical aspects are all superb. Highly recommended....more info
  • marvelous Massenet
    Renee fleming is at her best in this genre,Massenet does so seem to bring out all that is beautiful,expressive use of tecnique,with superb legato combined with thoughtfull portrayal ,one wonders is Werthers Charlotte her next choice.Alvarez is not ideal it should have been Vargas,but with the rest of the cast supporting in strenght,4 stars is appropriate.Costumes were good,but lack of good scenery did nothing to help the performance which with Lopez Cobos coducting the Paris Orchestra,should have been a riot of colour in sound and vision....more info
  • Exquisite Manon: Fleming & Alvarez in top form
    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....more info
  • Beautiful Production Let Down By Its Star
    This production has a lot going for it - the sets are gorgeous in their elegant simplicity and the costumes are beautiful. Also the appearance of authentically French singers in the smallers roles (including the incomparable Michel Senechal) adds a lot. Alvarez is really very good, singing with a beautiful line and feeling for the music - I miss that last bit of elegance the role calls for.
    However for me the whole sinks due to the singing of Renee Fleming. The basic quality of the voice is beautiful but so much is affected and tricky - constant bulges in the line - and she lets final notes of phrases sag in pitch. Moffo does the same in the infamous Thais she recorded but with Moffo you felt she had to sing that way due to lack of support. I don't know what Flemings reasons are but singing like this, which would be bad in any repertory, is particularly damaging in French where you need a straight and simple line. Some parts are better than others but the whole Cours la Reine feeds into her worse mannerisms and its frankly awful. Listen to Maggie Teyte if you want know how to sing French properly and even Sills at the end of her career sang French better than Fleming.
    One only hopes she can get herself in hand and correct these problems before its too late....more info
  • Simply gorgeous!
    This is an amazingly beautiful production in a not-at-all attractive opera house! Manon is simply another role that the great Renee Fleming owns, and everyone else in the cast is breathtaking as well! Along with the recording, this DVD is just stunning! Everything about this production is simply gorgeous! Certainly a must-see!...more info
  • A Night at the Opera
    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....more info
  • Fleming ¨¤ Paris
    Pour Ren¨¦e Fleming, il s'agissait sans doute d'un "challenge" : chanter Manon, en Fran?ais of course, et ¨¤ l'Op¨¦ra de Paris! Challenge r¨¦ussi...qui pourrait r¨¦sister ¨¤ l'une des plus belles femmes au monde, dont la voix irradie et enchante?
    Curieusement, Manon est devenue la coqueluche des grandes maisons d'op¨¦ra, et les chanteuses d'aujourd'hui (Dessay et Netrebko, entre autres) aiment se l'approprier. C'est tr¨¨s bien, car l'op¨¦ra poss¨¨de beaucoup plus de charmes que sa rivale puccinienne, trop brutale ¨¤ mon go?t.
    La production fran?aise se veut plus intimiste qu'¨¤ Vienne ou Barcelone, avec de beaux cadrages qui se resserrent ou s'¨¦largissent, comme des plans cin¨¦matographiques, ¨¦voquant aussi bien Watteau que Choderlos de Laclos (les liaisons dangereuses). Les costumes sont absolument magnifiques. Mention sp¨¦ciale au v¨¦t¨¦ran Michel S¨¦n¨¦chal, acteur, com¨¦dien et chanteur, qui sait ce que th¨¦atre veut dire...
    Ren¨¦e Fleming est ¨¦blouissante (mais ?a, on le savait d¨¦j¨¤) et son t¨¦nor est remarquable....more info


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