Manon

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					624                                                                   Notes, March 2010

conspirators, an obligatory farewell duet,      tumes are an appealing mixture of period-
and even a ballad sung by Froila on the leg-    inspired and contemporary-looking outfits
end of the “Cloud Maiden,” a trope on the       that complement Erich Wonder’s minimal-
Lorelei myth. In an interesting departure       ist and dimly-lit set.
from Singspiel tradition, Schubert replaces        It is no wonder the opera received few
spoken dialogue with accompanied recita-        performances after its 1854 premiere in
tives, imbues the texture with beautiful        Weimar by Franz Liszt, and it is thanks to
melodies, borrows intricate Rossinian-          the Schubert bicentennial that this produc-
inspired ensemble scenes, and intimates         tion was filmed at the Theater an der Wien
a move toward the emerging romantic             in 1997. The DVD includes a booklet with
tradition.                                      biographical notes on the performers, a
   Endrik Wottrich and Luba Orgonasova          short essay on the opera, and an informa-
are charismatic and vocally wonderful in        tive track-by-track synopsis by Richard
their respective eponymous roles. The role      Lawrence. For Schubert lovers (who have
of the deposed King Froila is sung superbly     the option of either English or German
by Thomas Hampson, whose made-up old            subtitles), this is a unique opportunity to
and feeble look contrasts with his remark-      view a staged production of this opera on
able vocal prowess. Nikolaus Harnoncourt        DVD, even if it comes with a delay of more
leads an effective performance of the           than a decade since its filming. General
Chamber Orchestra of Europe, an ensem-          opera goers will probably find it difficult to
ble that was founded in 1981 by young           add Alfonso und Estrella on their list of must-
alumni from the European Union Youth            see operas. Music scholars, however, may
Orchestra. Redoubtable director Jürgen          have one more opportunity to lament the
Flimm (who will assume the position of          fact that, had Schubert been able to collab-
artistic director of the Deutsche Staatsoper    orate with librettists of a higher caliber,
in Berlin, after his recent resignation from    and had he lived longer and under more
the Salzburg Festival) undertook the ex-        auspicious circumstances, he might have
tremely challenging task of extracting every    provided us with the missing link in the
bit of dramatic nuance out of this otherwise    great tradition of romantische Oper between
static libretto. There was very little Flimm    Weber and Wagner. But these are too many
could do to enhance scenes of sub-standard      hypotheses for this production to undo.
dramatic coherence, such as the dramati-
cally unconvincing series of tableaux of Act                    Eftychia Papanikolaou
Three. Florence von Gerkan’s austere cos-                       Bowling Green State University


Jules Massenet. Manon. DVD. Jesús Lo
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Deflo and Orlandi appear to have elaborated on this utter discrepancy by combining dark, abstract architectures with brightly colored historic costumes, early dancing, and such anecdotal details as acrobats, commedia dell'arte characters, and Baroque dancers. [...] the Arthaus Manon will no doubt provide meat and drink to the home video spectator, but die-hard Massenet fans may wish to complement this version with an alternative that hinges more on drama.
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