As a big opera enthusiast, I was eager to watch productions of Massenet's masterpiece Manon(as much as I like Thais for its affecting final scene, Manon is my favourite Massenet opera). I saw three productions of this wonderful work, one with Beverly Sills which was my personal favourite, one with Renee Fleming and this. All three are wonderful and do justice to the opera.
For this Manon, visually it adds to the opera's existing beauty. The picture quality and sound are excellent and the camera work is interesting and stylish. The costumes and sets may be old-fashioned to some, I for one found them very sumptuous and very pleasing to the eyes.
Musically, this Manon is equally brilliant. The orchestra play with pathos, enhancing the poignancy of the final scene, and the conducting is suitably genteel. As for performances, Francissco Araiza for me has never been this good. He is dashing, commands the stage well(I personally can find him stiff even in the Mozart he specialises in) and is in sparkling voice.
Edita Gruberova is spellbinding, very touching, vocally wonderful with colouratura that positively glitters and my second favourite Manon after Sills. And she is very musical as well, the St Sulpice scene allows her to use her full voice, but her lovely pianissimos are not to be missed either.
Overall, an absolutely beautiful Manon. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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