Manon. Paris Bastille Opera 2001. Production: Gilbert Deflo. Cast: Renée Fleming (Manon), Marcelo Àlvarez (des Grieux), Jean-Luc Chaignaud (Lescaut). Conductor: Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Further information here.Both Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay and Anna Netrebko now appear as Manon on DVD - all superb in three different productions, that seem tailored to the individual strenghts of each soprano.
In this very elegant Gilbert Deflo staging from 2001, the sets are kept to a minimum with the stage being virtually bare. The historical costumes worn by all singers are simply fantastic and lighten up the entire stage together with the sophisticated use of lightning. Very aesthetic.
And exceptionally well suited to bring out Renée Fleming´s artistical strenghts, her Manon being no simple school-girl, but an elegant and delicate woman. Furthermore, Manon is vocally a good part for her, though as usual, some may find her singing mannered, however much less so here in 2001 than in recent years. With Renée Fleming we don´t see the development of the character as we do with Natalie Dessay, but instead we see the stylish Manon.
Marcelo Àlvarez does not exactly have sparkling on-stage chemistry with Renée Fleming and cuts a rather anonymous figure on stage. He is in fine voice, but is no match for Rolando Villazón, who appears with both Natalie Dessay (from Barcelona) and Anna Netrebko (from Berlin).
Renée Fleming with Adieu notre petite table:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Renée Fleming: 4-5
Marcelo Àlvarez: 3
Gilbert Deflo´s production: 4
Overall impression: 4