Manon for me is my favourite Massenet opera, and I have loved all three productions I have seen of the opera(1983, 1977 and this from 2001). The story is heartfelt and very touching with the second most affecting final scene of any of Massenet's operas(Thais is first for me), and the music is truly beautiful.
You cannot go wrong with this 2001 production. It is truly exquisite in every sense of the word. Starting with how it looks visually, the costumes are so beautiful and colourful, and the sets have a certain richness to them.
The camera work is interesting all the way through and helped by clear picture quality and great lighting. I can't fault the production musically either, the orchestra have a lot of poignancy in their playing and Jesus Lopez-Cobos confirms why he is so talented with a superior conducting job.
Staging is excellent, the best being the Cours La Raine and gambling scenes, though one mustn't dispute the scene between Manon and Count Des Grieux, it is very touching, and the baroque-style ballet, which is very engaging and fitting in its choreography.
I couldn't have asked for better performances either. Renee Fleming is stunning as Manon, beautiful singing and deeply-felt acting. Marcelo Alvarez is a dashing and wholly convincing Des Grieux, and like Fleming he outdoes himself in the heart-breaking final act and in the exciting Nous Vivrons a Paris.
Alain Vernhes is a sympathetic Count Des Grieux, Mechel Senechal can still act up a storm and Lescaut and De Bretigny are also effectively performed.
Overall, exquisite really. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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