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Subject: MET Manon Lescaut 3 Dec: Netrebko, Alvarez, Maltman
From: "Takis Pavl." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Takis Pavl.
Date:Wed, 7 Dec 2016 08:53:04 +0000
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After thedisturbing Aida on Friday, I was praying Manon Lescaut would make me like operaagain. Thankfully it did. The MET on Saturday afternoon felt like an operahouse and the singing offered the art I expect from this genre of music.Others have complained about the setting of this Manon Lescaut production but Ifound it worked for me and for the characters. Yes, it was a bit funny when theNazis suddenly appeared but it made sense within this concept. 

Everyone onstage, including the chorus, was engaged in the story and their roles. Maltmandeserves every praise he’s got so far, he created a three dimensional catalystcharacter and his phrasing always had something to say. It shows how importantthese less flashy roles are in an opera like Manon Lescaut. I’ve seen himbefore in Don Pasquale and found him great there as well. 

I was happy to hearAlvarez live again, almost ten years since the last time I saw him in Boheme.In an era when singers in leading roles expire quickly, Alvarez deservesrespect for keeping his voice in such fine shape after all these years. Hisbreath on Saturday sounded a bit short at times but the placement of the sound,the outstanding diction and the generous and sensitive phrasing are models oftenor singing. Only at the very end did a couple of phrases hint how exhaustingthe role of Des Grieux is. Alvarez is of the arm-stretch school of acting andnever stopped gesturing during the performance even though he remained incharacter (in contrast to Berti on Friday). This emphasised the generation gapbetween him and Netrebko who is clearly of the modern, cinematic school ofacting. Times have moved on and that is why she’s the reigning soprano rightnow. Her voice took quite some time to warm up, the few phrases she had in thefirst act indicated a break in the voice that is normally smoother. In quelle trine morbide on Saturday wasnot a homogenous thought but separate phrases and it was a pity as I think shecan sing this aria much more beautifully. It just sounded that it wasn’t herbest performance. But once beyond this aria, everything improved! The duet withLescaut was already on a different level and she only got better and better. Bysola perduta abbandonata she had the entire audience. Her concentration,attention to the text and vocalism was commendable. Take away all the glitterand bling that surrounds her, there is a sincere artist in Netrebko. This rolesuits her personality beautifully in my opinion as she can portray both thevanity and the charm of the role. I couldn’t help but hear Tebaldi in my head afew times during the evening like in miodolce amor tu piangi? but this production offered many moving moments inwhich you could hear the greatness of Puccini, congratulations to Armiliato as well. What a fascinating opera by theway, far more interesting than Boheme. 

Loud bravos to all! 

Takis

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