Natalie Dessay & Rolando Villazón - Manon (Massenet)

Massenet: Manon - Natalie Dessay & Rolando Villazón

Natalie Dessay & Rolando Villazón - Manon (Massenet)
Classical/Opera | 2 DVD9 | 2h55' | 7,7+6,5 GB
Publisher: Virgin Classics 2007 | Subtitles: French, English, German, Spanish, Catalan
Audio: PCM linear Stereo, DTS 5.1, Dolby digital 5.1 / Picture Format 16:9

Manon by Jules Massenet
Performer: Didier Henry (Baritone), Rolando Villazón (Tenor), Manuel Lanza (Tenor), Natalie Dessay (Soprano), Samuel Ramey (Bass)
Conductor: Victor Pablo Pérez
Orchestra/Ensemble: Barcelona Teatro Liceo Orchestra, Barcelona Teatro Liceo Chorus
Period: Romantic
Written: 1883-1884; France

Manon Lescaut – flighty and amoral, yet somehow innocent and lovable – is one of the quintessential French heroines, and her long-suffering lover, the Chevalier des Grieux, is always drawn back to her. Set in the 18th century, Massenet's opera traces her trajectory from carefree provincial girl to the toast of Paris and finally to her death as an exile in the wastelands of Louisiana.

Massenet's setting demands a charismatic singing-actress. She must run the gamut from girlish insouciance to tragic pathos and command both a seductive lyrical line and sparkling coloratura. Natalie Dessay first took on the role in Geneva in 2004, when Forum Opéra described her as "overwhelming, believable (...) stunningly right, both vocally and theatrically"

In June 27 at Barcelona's magnificent Liceu opera house, Dessay appeared in Manon, partnered for the first time on any stage by Roland Villaz&oactue;n. The production was by David McVicar, one of today's most sought-after directors of opera, noted for both his sense of spectacle and his penetrating perception. The cast also boasted veteran bass Samuel Ramey, still a magnificent singer, as des Grieux's father and Spanish baritone Manuel Lanza as Lescaut.

Forum Opéra had the following to say: "How do you stage Manon and faithfully reflect the libretto without slipping into a literal approach? The Liceu squares the circle with panache, thanks to the combination of David McVicar's concept, singers who know how to act and an orchestral performance which does full justice to Massenet's score.

"Natalie Dessay and Rolando Villazon bring typically generous commitment to their characters (...) Time and effort have rounded out [Dessay's] middle register and added substance to her lower notes, and the French soprano is (...) making a brilliant success of her transition to the lyric soprano repertoire. Blessed with a physique that favours her credibility in the role of a young girl, she finds the range of nuance to express the excited feelings of [a character] who wants everything now and suffers the consequences (...) The Mexican tenor (...) has always excelled at expressing emotion and brings the young lover utterly convincingly to life.

"[The conductor] Victor Pablo Pérez shows a special affinity with Massenet's writing, achieving a flexibility and responsiveness from the orchestra (...) which brings out all the refinement of a score whose music, while typical of the late 19th century (...) has moments where it foreshadows subsequent decades."

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