Sondra Radvanovsky’s Manon Lescaut at the Deutsche Oper Sets the Bar High

15/11/2015

GermanyGermany Puccini: Manon Lescaut: Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra and Chorus, Donald Runnicles (conductor), Deutsche Oper Berlin, 14.11.2015. (JMI)

Manon

Deutsche Oper’s Manon Lescaut (c) Bettina Stöss

Puccini, Manon Lescaut

Production:

Direction: Gilbert Deflo
Sets and Costumes: William Orlandi

Cast:

Manon Lescaut: Sondra Radvanovsky
Des Grieux: Stefano La Colla
Lescaut: Dalibor Jenis
Geronte: Stephen Bronk
Edmondo: Gideon Poppe
Dance Master: Burkhard Ulrich
Musician: Annika Schlicht
Innkeeper: Noel Bouley

For me, the chief attraction of this production was the presence of Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, and the results met all expectations: the American soprano was splendid and the musical direction worthy of praise.

This Gilbert Deflo production had its première here in 2004. It’s a very traditional work with few personal touches, and firmly faithful to the libretto. In the first half of the opera, the sets are realistic, but in the last act the stage holds just a few rocks. The 18th-century costumes correspond to the period in which the opera is set; they are appropriate in general, and even funny in the case of the musicians and guests at Geronte’s mansion. The production is brightly lit, especially in the second act.

Donald Runnicles has spent six years now as musical director of the DOB, and he has proved to be an excellent conductor. I’ve been fortunate to see him on the podium here many times, and his performances have always been superb. Manon Lescaut was no exception to the rule: his conducting was exemplary, drawing an excellent performance from the orchestra, helping the singers at all times and conveying emotion to the audience. The chorus too was marvellous. 

Lately, Manon Lescaut has become an opera favoured by top sopranos and tenors. Anna Netrebko played the title role under the baton of Riccardo Muti in Rome almost two years ago, Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais were the protagonists in both Munich and London and in Berlin we have Sondra Radvanovsky. She may not yet have arrived at the same divo status as Netrebko or Kaufmann, but it would be difficult today to find a better Manon than hers. If I’m not mistaken, she hasn’t sung the role since her debut in Leipzig in 2008. Ms. Radvanovsky has the perfect voice for this Puccini heroine, an amazingly beautiful and powerful voice and an overwhelming mastery of dynamics. She was the great figure of the night and set the bar very high for anyone who takes on this role. Her rendering of “In quelle trine morbide” was spectacular, as was the always much expected “Sola, perduta, abbandonata.” She was simply wonderful in the part.

Renato des Grieux was sung by Italian tenor Stefano La Colla, whom I had seen in Munich last year. I had the impression then of a tenor with an important voice but some significant defects, especially his lack of expressiveness. Things have not totally changed since then, although there are improvements. His voice is nicely suited to this role in the middle range and opens up very well at the top, but I still find his sound at the passage unconvincing. While his voice has definitely improved, he is still a rather inexpressive interpreter.

Lescaut was played by Dalibor Jenis: a correct interpreter with a wide and adequate voice. The secondary characters were not as impressive. Stephen Bronk was a modest Geronte in vocal terms, and tenor Gideon Poppe has an attractive but rather small voice.

The performance began with the entire company gathered on stage. Donald Runnicles dedicated some words to the Paris tragedy and asked for a minute of silence from the audience.

Jose M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! LPO’s ‘Summer Sessions’ – four hour-long chamber concerts every 2nd Wednesday from 15 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • UPDATED ONLINE NEWS! IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month