3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Such a sad story in a France seen by americains.,
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This review is from: Massenet: Manon (Barenboim, Netrebko, Villazon) [DVD]  (DVD)
Staging: this Paris may be what americains soldiers may have seen of France's capital in the forties. Or is it really? To me it is an unsavoury mix of 50's fashion (some dresses are really pretty but if i had wanted a fashion show i wouldn't have bought an opera on DVD) some 60's fashion, some seedy and cheesy settings in the Hotel de Transylvanie and the worst ever curtain, all fake gold and half translucid...Vinyl, please...
Villazon has some golden moments, unfortunately they are ... moments. I was not impressed by his -ah, fuyez, douce image- in the slightest, his voice in totally uneven and there are notes that simply don't come out at all. I felt sorry because I bought this DVD to hear him before his misadventures took him off the best scenes and because yes I used to really like his "timbre" (timber/ tone ? in english?)
Ana Netrebko looks adorable though much older than the character she is supposed to be (16) and her honeyed tone takes us to heaven. Well...that's only if you're not a french speaker. Being one, i was sorely disappointed by the weakeness in pronounciation from both main singers.
Mr Des Grieux,father, is excellent as usual. Check him in Munich's Lohengrin with JK and Ana Harteros.
Overall, staging felt fake and aimed at an american audience (the one that has a stereotypical knowledge of historical Paris only, of course ;-) and the singing was mostly disappointing and so un-french.
This is a Paris for ignorant tourists and i wouldn't think any opera audience would fit that description. It is barely better than Broadway...it says a lot...
Manon was performed in Chicago in 2008 - Jonas Kaufmann and Nathalie Dessay- anybody knows how to get a copy of that?