I was very disappointed with this - I had borrowed a mates copy of the version with Cura and Guleghina (TDK) and after reading the amazon reviews on it, totally agreed with what was being said. So, as my two other DVDs were quite old recordings (the Met 1980 and ROH 1983) and the Cura version wasn't very satifying, I decided to invest in this new Met recording. Unfortunately, although all three of these productions are good, the two recordings from the 1980s leave this one in the third division and struggling to avoid relegation.
With the current dearth of excellent tenors available, what on earth possessed the Met to employ Marcelo Giordani as Des Grieux? He is wooden, removed from the action, possesses limited acting skills and sings only competently (in fact, on a couple of occasions, he made me cringe). My wife often says of such performances, '...it was nice of him to turn up'. I feel that it would have been nicer if he had stayed at home!
I have always admired Karita Mattila and was one of the few to defend her against the critisism of her Tosca at the Met. Here, though, she is totaly out of depth and I really wish she hadn't done this. She doesn't look right, her acting is right either and her voice does not suit this role. It is nothing to do with her age, as one reviewer suggested - Scotto was older when she sang it here in 1980 and so was Freni when she recorded it with Pavarotti in the 1990s - she is just wrong for the role. Perfect examples can be found in Act II - compare her 'In quelle trine morbide..' with Freni and Scotto and I think you will see what I mean.
I also agree with the reviwer who commented that hearing Dwane Croft only served to remind us of what we were missing from the wonderful studio recording with Freni and Pavarotti.
Then, there are those awful, patronising behind the scenes interviews (yet again) - they totally detract from any engagement the viewer is building up whilst watching the opera (which I am now irrittated at continually having to say during reviews of MET HD releases!). I can only hope that the rumours are true; and as from the new Ring Cycle, these awful interviews and unnecessary glimpsed behind the scenes are to be consigned to bonus extras at the end or preferably, on separate disks.
Oh dear, I can't remember havingbeen so negative about a release, but I cannot recommend this to you. The best are still the 1980 relay from the Met with Domingo and Scotto and the 1983 relay from Covent Garden (again with Domingo).
Hopefully, one day, Manon Lescaut will be better served in HD - but, if I were you, I'd stick to the two recordings mentioned here and the CD with Freni and Pavarotti.