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Puccini - Manon Lescaut / Gardiner, Vick (Glyndebourne Festival Opera 1997) [DVD] [2011]

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Puccini's first major success is based around the 18th century novel by Abbé Prévost and tells the story of the doomed infatuation of Chevalier des Grieux for the beautiful, fun-loving Manon. This production was directed by Graham Vick, with John Eliot Gardiner conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Patrick Denniston shines as Chevalier des Grieux 22 Nov 2007
By P. Sutherland - Published on
Format: DVD
This Glyndebourne production of Manon Lescaut is satisfactory in all respects, but I couldn't relate to Adina Nitescu as Manon. Maybe it was her acting; I don't know, she didn't fit the part for me. Although she sang well enough, she kept not looking at des Grieux when singing.

Patrick Denniston, on the other hand, was a very good des Grieux and he got better as the opera progressed, both in singing and acting. All my stars go to his performance.

Paolo Montarsolo played Geronte di Ravoir totally besotted, wearing an idiotic grin as he proudly showed her off to his lecherous friends. This group was particularly creepy. I don't recall any other production where any attention was actually paid to these gawker friends of Geronte. But there was a focus on each individual as they greeted Manon. One of them actually licked her hand.

The rest of the cast did not leave any impression. Except the bad girls at le Havre, of course. They were the usual caricatures of floozies and trollops.

The set for this production was of the minimalist sort. The same background folded in various dimensions as the scenes changed, with doors appearing where needed. The desert scene (outside New Orleans!!!) looked like a badly designed Zen garden, with rocks placed every few feet.

John Eliot Gardiner and the London Philharmonic Orchestra played the score beautifully. Puccini's music is dramatic and passionate.

Overall, this is a winner. If you can't get enough of Manon Lescaut, here is another one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An exceptional, emotional performance 21 Sep 2013
By H. A. Weiss - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised by the power of this recording. Neither Nitescu nor Denniston appears very often in this country, although she debuted at the Met in the role of Donna Anna in 2004. Her performance is truly transcendent, especially in the fourth act "Perduta, sola, abbandonata". Denniston is a true spinto tenore; his trumpet like voice is ideally suited for the role of DeGrieux. John Eliot Gardiner conducts with sensitivity and power. I am at a loss to understand some of the reviews. Patrick Denniston is anything but short, while Adina Nitescu is. And the music for this opera is mediocre?!I do agree that the orchestral and vocal parts are sometimes out of balance, making it difficult to settle on one volume setting. But if you are a fan of Puccini's lyrical, romantic style, this recording is a must.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
No Conductor Could Do Any More ... 3 Aug 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
... to rescue the music of Manon Lescaut, Puccini's earliest success, from mediocrity. I had hopes that John Eliot Gardiner, with the London Philharmonic and the Glyndebourne Chorus, could make me revise my opinion of this opera, make me recognize the qualities that have kept fresh it in the repertoire when so many excellent operas by other composers have fallen into desuetude. But no. The music is mediocre, and that's that. There are only so many 'slots' to be filled in the calendars of opera houses worldwide, and to plug one of them with Manon Lescaut is simply a waste.

However, DVDs of operas are another matter entirely, and on that basis again I had hopes that this production at Glydebourne would at least be at the high standard of most other productions there. Another disappointment! The staging is sparse and dull; okay, I can tolerate sparse staging. The acoustics are badly imbalanced and the singers sound muffled; okay, that's so common a problem of opera DVDs that I have pnly to grin and bear it. But Adina Nitescu, as Manon, is an outrage. Even on a CD sound-only, her singing would be unimpressive and lacking in any affective nuance. But in a visual presentation -- a DVD of an opera is a FILM, even when it's filmed as a live staging -- Nitescu is hopelessly unappealing. She's simply not glamorous enough to make Manon plausible. Lack of attractiveness could be overcome, to be sure, by passionate singing and capable physical acting, but Nitescu is inert, unresponsive to any physical cues from her male associates. Even if I loved this opera, which obviously I don't, her leaden performance would spoil it for me.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This Is My Favorite Version 27 Aug 2001
By "mackiemesser" - Published on
I don't have a cast list with me, but it wouldn't probably wouldn't help anyone but a real opera specialist. The orchestra is quite young and well conducted and the sound is excellent. Each of the singers is really careful and the quality of the singing is superb. The only exception to this is Lescaut who is a little wobbly for my taste. The staging is peculiar, setting the yard of the inn as a small time carnival in Act 1. But, I must say that this works very well and makes sense of some lines that were not clear to me from other versions. There is clutter later in the act but it does not detract from the effect. The chorus is most impressive and the parade of prostitutes in Act III is excellently done. The lead, Manon, acts reasonably well and seems to fit the four phases of Manon's character. Her singing is truly magnificent. DeGrieux is played by a short singer who is not preposessing and is not a very good actor. He always seems to be orientating himself to get the maximum support from the stage and hall which detracts from the visual but produces a clear, accurate and powerful sound. Indeed, he sometimes overbalances Manon.
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