After 60 years of devouring all music, & opera in particular, I have only just discovered Henze via this DVD of his first opera.
It was a revelation - the highlight of a year's opera viewing.
The opera itself, based on the Manon Lescaut story, is quite outstanding in every respect.
It's construction, in seven swift scenes interspersed by orchestral interludes, is perfect in telling the same story as Massenet & Puccini, but in half the time.
The music, sounding like a cross between Berg and Gershwin, is immediately attractive and constantly tickles the ear with swooning strings one minute, violently percussive jazz the next.
This production, set in a busy railway station which can change during an interlude into an apartment, a university library or a drug den, is one of the most inventive I have ever seen of any opera.
And the cast is marvellous - Laura Aikin in particular is the perfect femme fatale, but everybody sings and acts their hearts out.
Likewise the orchestra, and the icing on the cake is the appearance of the frail composer at the end, to receive a thoroughly deserved standing ovation from audience, cast & orchestra.
Very highly recommended, and I can't wait to see more Henze operas.