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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments to make grown men weep...
This is a live performance from Barcelona in 2007 featuring two of the hottest names in opera at the moment - Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon - as the young lovers. It is a somewhat uneven performance, and the two are rather mismatched, but there are moments of absolute wonder which make this recording worth repeated viewing.

Dessay is a natural French...
Published on 3 Mar 2008 by 221b

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but the Villazon/Netrebko coupling is better
I have owned both this and the rival Villazon recording with Netrebko as his partner. As happened in his very successful performance of Donizetti's Love Potion with Netrebko, the two are able to spark off each other in an altogether more natural way. They are also able to sustain that level whereas in this performance the levels are rather more variable.

The...
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by I. Giles


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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments to make grown men weep..., 3 Mar 2008
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This review is from: Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This is a live performance from Barcelona in 2007 featuring two of the hottest names in opera at the moment - Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon - as the young lovers. It is a somewhat uneven performance, and the two are rather mismatched, but there are moments of absolute wonder which make this recording worth repeated viewing.

Dessay is a natural French speaker, Villazon is obviously not, and at times it sounds like they are almost singing in different languages, and his Italianate sound is sometimes too strong to overlook. And yet, his rendition of "En fermant les yeux" is so stunningly beautiful it could make grown men weep, and is the best moment on the whole disc. Just watch Dessay as she "acts" in response to his singing during this aria, and for a moment you can believe in them! Dessay is very athletic and physical in her performances, and this one is no different; her singing is very good, but sometimes I was too conscious of her acting for effect, rather than inhabiting the role.
The production by David McVicar is in a static set, the chorus as audience in galleries behind the stage, with a few props in each scene to suggest the setting; but rather than focus attention on the performers, I found it a little dull and unimaginative. The St Sulpice scene, for example, is set on a bare stage with a few chairs, which is perhaps meant to represent a church, but the power of Des Grieux' downfall before his God is somewhat diluted by this non-commital staging. The orchestral playing is fine under Victor Pablo Perez, and the supporting cast are satisfactory but not memorable (including Sam Ramey in unfortunate vocal decline).

So why watch this recording? Ultimately, for the opera itself - one of Massenet's finest achievements - and for the performances of Dessay and Villazon who deliver moments of greatness, it's just unfortunate that they cannot sustain the whole evening in such coruscating form.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good production, 27 Aug 2009
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R. Cheesman (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This will suit those who prefer period style productions, although the McVicar sets are a little eccentric. The leads are first class both in voice and acting. Natalie Dessay has a particularly melodic voice. Unlikely to disappoint.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but the Villazon/Netrebko coupling is better, 23 Nov 2011
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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I have owned both this and the rival Villazon recording with Netrebko as his partner. As happened in his very successful performance of Donizetti's Love Potion with Netrebko, the two are able to spark off each other in an altogether more natural way. They are also able to sustain that level whereas in this performance the levels are rather more variable.

The McVicar production here is basically set in period but does not rise to the heights of his remarkable Rigoletto at the Royal Opera or his Le Nozze de Figaro at Glyndebourne.

This is possibly the best of the Massenet operas and does at least avoid the problems of Puccini's ending of the similar story with Manon's death in the Florida desert! The, perhaps controversially updated setting of the Villazon/Netrebko with Barenboim at the helm, is still for me the best bet as I feel the musical values are more reliable. In this I am not alone and I would suggest looking at the reviews of that set before buying this.

Otherwise the sound here is well recorded both visually and sonically and the camera work is sympathetic.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Massanet Manon McVicar, 24 May 2011
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I. Zaneres (west midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Manon to me is the most complete of Massanets operas, the mood of the music brilliantly reflects the emotions of the characters, and the scenarios. I wait in aniticipation for the gentle sounds of intimacy and the powerful chords of strong feelings. Massanet seems to understand these in a way that no other composer can.
In this performance Villazon and Dessay capture the personalities to perfection, both in their acting and singing. This is not to detract from the other lead singers who portray their roles to perfection. Samuel Ramey as Le Comte De Grieux has however developed a long deep slow vibrato which is not to my taste, his tone is fine but this is a minor point within the whole performance.
The set is imaginative, with at times the chorus becoming an audience, and even scene shifters, but this all blends in to the whole experience. In reality this is one set with changes of accessories, it is brilliantly done.
Costumes are fitting to the period, down to earth and feel appropriate.
I find that David McVicar either leaves me bewildered or marvelling at his quirky view, in this case the latter. There are minor characters hovering in unexpected places, but it works. I have two other versions of Manon, but they seem relatively boring.
This is among my most played DVDs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Production, 5 Jan 2014
This review is from: Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
David MacVicar's production uses traditional costumes and a simplified set with galleries at the back where the chorus observe and comment on the proceedings. Society seems to conspire in the destruction of an innocent girl with selfish male attitudes to the fore.
The two principals are excellent. Natalie Dessay, for me, is just about the best singer/actress out there. She gives 100% commitment to the role. Rolando Villazon as the Chevalier is just about as good. Conductor and orchestra are also top class. A thoroughly absorbing performance of a great work.
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Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008]
Massenet Manon [DVD] [2008] by David McVicar (DVD - 2008)
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