The productions emanating from the Teatre Liceu in Barcelona are fast becoming some of the most engaging stage works in recent years. The "Ring Cycle" and Albéniz' "Merlin" were a true wonder to behold and this "Manon" is without doubt one of the most sumptuous presentations ever.
Massenet's masterpiece has everything going for it, superb sets and costumes by Tanya McCallum, colourful choreography from Michael Keegan-Dole and fastidious direction by David McVicar, but it is the performance of the two main singers that makes this set something to cherish for posterity.
Dessay and Villazón are nothing short of remarkable, and their portrayal of the lovers has a certain hypnotic urgency that sweeps you off your feet. Indeed, the interpretative levels reached can hardly be bettered. The rest of the case give creditable performances and Perez's conducting is commendably unfussy while giving ample scope to the passionate flavour of the score.
François Roussillon's TV direction captures the many intimate moments with delicate precision, and the viewer is continually involved in the drama. This is certainly the best Manon on DVD by a country mile further augmented by a revealing one-hour documentary on the project.
Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech