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A life of love or a life of luxury? In a moment of crisis, Manon can't decide; so she tries to have both, and ends up with neither. This is co-dependency set to music, and it was Puccini's first big hit.

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Karita Mattila ...
Marcello Giordani ...
Dwayne Croft ...
Sasha Cooke ...
Madrigal Singers
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Bernstein ...
A sea captain
...
Madrigal Singers
James Courtney ...
A sergeant
Bernard Fitch ...
Dancing Master
James Levine ...
Himself - Conductor
Tamara Mumford ...
A musician
Lisette Oropesa ...
Madrigal Singers
Sean Panikkar ...
Edmondo
Paul Plishka ...
An innkeeper
Ellen Rabiner ...
Madrigal Singers
Tony Stevenson ...
A lamlighter
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Storyline

The Chevalier is disowned by his aristocratic family after he seduces Manon into running away with him to Paris. He goes ever deeper into debt in his attempts to provide the luxury that Manon demands. Written by dnitzer

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classical | See All (1) »

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Music

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Release Date:

27 April 2008 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Uneven but very enjoyable
15 October 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When it comes to Manon Lescaut, my favourite productions will always be the 1980 and 1983 productions both with Placido Domingo but the former with Renata Scotto and the latter with Kiri TeKanawa. Manon Lescaut is not one of my favourites but the music is gorgeous and the final act is both thrilling and heart breaking.

Personally, while it is rather uneven I found this production very enjoyable. As you would expect from this series, the high definition does look fantastic, with interesting camera work(even if some of the close-ups do the singers little favour), clear picture quality and excellent sound.

As for the costumes and sets they equally impress. The sets look beautiful without being too old-fashioned and the costumes are sumptuous and don't jar with the setting. Musically the production is wonderful, sparkling orchestral playing bringing out such poignancy in the final act and the Intermezzo and James Levine conducts with a more than evident love of his job.

Staging is fine. The final scene is very moving as it should be. The singing is likewise very good. I admit while I am an admirer of Karita Mattila I did have reservations about her singing Manon. Although I love her Salome, Jenufa, Elisabetta, Leonore and Eva, I didn't like her Tosca in the 2009 Met production. Considering that Tosca is perhaps a heavier role than Manon, I was worried that Mattila would have similar problems.

Actually, while she is by no means perfect and I don't think she has the ideal voice for the role, something lighter and more ethereal would've suited me more, she is much better than she was in Tosca. While she does have a habit at lunging to notes and her voice is not as rich, her pitch is more secure here, she is much less over-tensed in her face, her stage presence while occasionally a little over-played is arresting and her renditions of In Quelle Trine Morbide and Sola, Perduta, Abbandonata are beautiful.

Marcello Giordani from past experience has been uneven. His singing is often of ringing brightness, but there have been times where I have known him to be strained. Here a vast majority of the time his singing belongs in the former category. While the acting itself is on the generic side, he is wonderful in the last two acts, he is natural on stage and his Des Grieux is suitably ardent.

For me, the most even performance of the principals is that of the always reliable Dwayne Croft as Lescaut. His baritone voice is of sympathetic quality, and his acting is much more than stand-there-and-sing quality. Dale Travis and Sean Panikkar are also good, as is Paul Plishka in a smaller role.

All in all, an uneven Manon Lescaut but also a very enjoyable one. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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