Magazine article Gramophone

Puccini: Manon Lescaut

Magazine article Gramophone

Puccini: Manon Lescaut

Article excerpt

Puccini [DVD Video] [Blu-Ray] Manon Lescaut Kristine Opolais sop                 Manon Lescaut Jonas Kaufmann ten                   Des Grieux Christopher Maitman bar              Lescaut Maurizio Muraro bass                 Geronte Benjamin Hulett ten                  Edmondo 

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House / Sir Antonio Pappano

Stage director Jonathan Kent

Video director Jonathan Haswell

Sony Classical [F] [DVD Video] 88875 10519-9; [F] [Blu-Ray] 88875 10520-9 (131' +16' * NTSC * 16:9 * DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo * 0 * S/s) Recorded live, June 2014

Whatever reservations you may have taken on board about the Royal Opera's carefully updated 2014 production of Puccini's first real emotional shocker, do not pass up the chance to see the power and achievement of Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais in the lead roles. Even in this day and age, to see (and hear) such uninhibited physical mastery of stage parts in opera is not so common--and everyone from the artists themselves to the director, designers, and video director should be praised.

Designer Paul Brown has cunningly synthesised images from 20th- and 2 lst-century life to match (rather than equate to) the situations in which Manon and Des Grieux find themselves--a drive-in freeway motel-cum-gambling den in Act 1; a Japan sex-hotel room with voyeuristic mirrors, watch-through doors and wheelon aged perverts in Act 2; a point of embarkation at which a reality TV crew films girls in the sex trade being shipped overseas (with quiffed MC straight from an adults' version of The Slammer) in Act 3; and a fragment of abandoned freeway bridge (curiously almost a dead ringer for the set of Calixto Bieito's Parsifal) in Act 4.

On these Opolais and Kaufmann have the sort of continuous contact that many directors can only dream of getting from their principals. …

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