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A stale production
on 15 February 2004
This 'Manon Lescaut' has a lot to speak on its behalf, but in my view it fails to reach the height, not to say the urgency, of the Met production from a couple of years earlier (luckily also out on DVD). Sinopoli, and a lot of people will disagree with me vehemently, is not a Puccinian conductor, the sheen he lends to the music is confectionary rather than impassioned, and his sense of rubato not very Italian. Götz Friedrich's production seems stale and one-dimensional when revisited today, but obviously fans will want to sample Kiri Te Kanawa's Manon, one of her more convincing portraits in the Italian repertoire, and Domingo is in glorious, vocally resplendent form, although I marginally prefer him in the Met version mentioned above.
A safe buy, absolutely, but in this the best of all worlds we have options. I opt for James Levine, Metropolitan, Domingo and Renata Scotto.