Arthaus presents an exceptional Manon from the Opera Paris on DVD. With American star soprano Renée Fleming in the manyfaceted title role, Argentinean tenor Marcelo Álvarez opposite her and Spanish opera conductor Jesús López-Cobos, this production provides first-rate listening and viewing of one of the masterpieces of French opéra lyrique.
The musical excellence of the performers in this production is outstanding. Renée Fleming’s Manon is womanly and seductive, her voice perfectly cultivated in this enormously demanding role, that requires change of register, sentiment and expression more often than almost any other operatic role. The combination of vocal beauty, stylistic versatility and commitment to dramatic portrayal made her Paris Manon an enormous success, in an interview she comments, “I think Manon is my favourite role. I love French music, it is so elegant and delicate stylistically. It has both dramatic and lyrical elements”.
Renée Fleming is partnered by the brilliant Marcelo Álvarez, who is hailed as „one of the hottest tenors on the international scene“ (Opera News), in the role of the Chevalier des Grieux. Together they present an absolutely moving final scene, when Manon dies in her lover’s arms, proving them one of the dream teams of the international opera scene.
The staging by Gilbert Deflo had its first performance at the Bastille opera in Paris in June 1997 and proved to be an unforgettable experience complete with splendid historical costumes by William Orlandi, sophisticated lighting, opulent ballet dancing and colourful mass scenes. The minimal décor of darkly shaded abstract backdrops further accentuates the magnificent, colourful costumes – thus shifting the focus onto the interaction between the characters of the drama. This is supported by the close-up filming, so that the viewer can actually experience an intimate filmed drama.
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