Sunday 7 September 2008

DVD: Anna Netrebko as Manon - with Rolando Villazón from Berlin

Manon. Berlin State Opera 2007. Production: Vincent Paterson. Cast: Anna Netrebko (Manon), Rolando Villazón (des Grieux), Christof Fischesser (Comte des Grieux). Conductor: Daniel Barenboim. 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 strengths of each soprano.
This DVD was recorded live at the Berlin State Opera during the run of performances in April/May last year, of which I attended the premiere.
American director Vincent Paterson has a past directing music videos, and this performance does indeed resemble a three-hour long music video. Previously shown at the Los Angeles Opera, some may ultimately find the staging too superficial. However, both in the theater and here on this DVD, I found it hugely entertaining. Essentially, of course, this production is a star vehicle for Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón and everything, including the poverty and suffering is glamorous.

Manon´s change from poor country girl to Marilyn Monroe look a like has found the ideal interpreter, both vocally and dramatically in Anna Netrebko. In the theater, her voice was considerably bigger than Rolando Villazón´s, who already here showed occasional hints of the vocal troubles that lead him to take an extended leave only few months later, and he even cancelled several performances of this Berlin run. On DVD, this was balanced out by the technicians and Villazón seemed in over-all better vocal shape than in the subsequent Barcelona performances with Natalie Dessay.

Originally Bertrand de Billy was scheduled to conduct this run of performances, but as he curiously cancelled for personal reasons Daniel Barenboim conducted the work for probably both the first and the last time. Not that he is not a competent conductor in this repertoire, which he is.

Highly recommended.

Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón in the Manon final scene:

The bottom line:

Anna Netrebko: 4-5
Rolando Villazón: 4-5

Vincent Paterson´s production: 5

Daniel Barenboim: 4-5

Overall impression: 4-5

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