Gabriel Bacquier, Gérard Souzay, Michel Trempont Massenet: Manon Genre:Classical This recording has been unavailable for too long. Recorded in 1970, a solid year-or-so before Beverly Sills' voice began to show the damage caused by singing Elisabetta I in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, this is the finest... more » all-around recording of Manon on the market. Sills, in addition to being fresh-voiced, is so thoroughly in the part that we can chart Manon's downfall step by step; her girlish singing is as right on as her sassy, showy coloratura in the thirds act, and her St Sulpice scene is truly seductive. She's the perfect Manon. And Nicolai Gedda's Des Grieux, sung, as is Sills' Manon and the rest of the cast, in impeccable French, is passionate, madly in love, and ultimately tragic. Gabriel Bacquier's Count is imperious and authoritative and Gerard Souzay's Lescaut is smooth. Julius Rudel's leadership sparkles when it should and his sense of French suavity is unfailing. The score is given more than complete - as an appendix, there's an aria for Manon that Massenet added later. This is a desert island disc. --Robert Levine« less
This recording has been unavailable for too long. Recorded in 1970, a solid year-or-so before Beverly Sills' voice began to show the damage caused by singing Elisabetta I in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, this is the finest all-around recording of Manon on the market. Sills, in addition to being fresh-voiced, is so thoroughly in the part that we can chart Manon's downfall step by step; her girlish singing is as right on as her sassy, showy coloratura in the thirds act, and her St Sulpice scene is truly seductive. She's the perfect Manon. And Nicolai Gedda's Des Grieux, sung, as is Sills' Manon and the rest of the cast, in impeccable French, is passionate, madly in love, and ultimately tragic. Gabriel Bacquier's Count is imperious and authoritative and Gerard Souzay's Lescaut is smooth. Julius Rudel's leadership sparkles when it should and his sense of French suavity is unfailing. The score is given more than complete - as an appendix, there's an aria for Manon that Massenet added later. This is a desert island disc. --Robert Levine
Operaman! | Chicago, IL United States | 05/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"(I wrote these words in a review of the Angel/EMI CD reissue that is now out of print) On my select list of favorite complete opera recordings sits Beverly Sills' Manon. I wore out three copies of the vinyl version and the EMI CD reissue was more than welcome in my collection! Bubbles once said this recording came closest to what she did in the theatre, and there simply hasn't been a more vivid and complete a performance, musically, dramatically or otherwise. Vocally everything is top-notch, the supporting cast is superior to anything else on recording and Rudel's pacing is without peer. Brava Manon, Brava Beverly Sills!I am also happy to report that the DGG reissue surpasses the EMI/Angel of a few years back in terms of overall sound quality. Collectors, your search has ended!"
Beverly Sills Signature Role
Steven Muni | Sutter Creek, CA USA | 12/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beverly Sills once said that if she was to be remembered for anything, it should be for "Manon". This is the role that catapulted her to opera superstardom. And she made this recording in 1970, when her voice still had all its youthful freshness and vigor, and shows just why Beverly Sills had such a great reputation. It has been said that Massenet wrote for his soprano, and nowhere is that more true than in the title role of this opera. And Sills does the role complete justice, vocally demonstrating in her singing the downfall of Manon from young innocent girl to demimondaine to despair and death. Her rendition of the great aria "Adieu, notre petite table", is incredibly moving. And the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Nicolai Gedda is supremely stylish as Des Grieux, Gabriel Bacquier strong and forthright as his father, and one gets to hear the late Gerard Souzay, famous primarily as a concert artist, singing a rare opera role as Lescaut, Manon's cousin. Julius Rudel conducts cleanly, making the most of Massenet's lush orchestrations. This recording belongs on the shelf of every opera lover."
Finally on Cd!
Emma de Soleil | On a holiday In Ibiza, then back to the UK for stu | 05/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally this absolutely sublime "Manon" has been released on CD. The moment I saw it, I ordered it. I always loved Sills in French music, her "Les jeunes filles de Cadix" is ravishingly beautiful. The live Thais from the MET (Not available in the USA) is one of the most moving performances of this sensuos opera. This Manon is one of Sills' crowning achievements, along with her Pamira, Elisabetta (Devereux), early Lucia, Anna Bolena and (YES) her sublime Norma. There is a triple crown of Manons, de los Angeles and Sills in the past and young Fleming today. Cotrubas' performance is beautiful too but not as glorious. Sills' feminine, fragile sound is made for the young Manon, as she develops her character her voice grows darker but never lacks the vocal splendour above the passagio. Her "Adieu notre petite table" is as haunting as Callas' recording and certainly more steady, I treasure both of them highly. Listen how she spins those endless phrases without gaps and flawless legato! What a gorgeous Pianissimo she had, it's lovely! The gambling scene in all its intensity has never been recorded with such a thrill. Sills shows that she was willing to give it all, to surpass every limit. The final scene, IMHO preferable to Puccini's version shows Sills at her best. The agony, love and heavenly passion is absolutely stunning. Being partnered by one of the greatest tenors ever to sing Des Grieux, we have an operatic dream-couple par excellence. (Their live-Lucia is a treasure too!) Gedda sings elegantly, passionately and with a French equalling the great George Thill. Souzay is equally splendid, as is the stupendous, always underrated Baquier. (The most ravishing Athanael and a great Scarpia) Rudel conducts perfectly, him and Sills created so much magic together! (Buy the Devereux video!) This release has been awaited EAGERLY! Now please, PLEASE release Sills' Norma on CD. I have the live-recording with Woolf and I'm totally floored, she even surpasses Sutherland in the vocal department. RUN to buy this recording and beg, blackmail or steal for Sills' Norma! You won't be sorry!"
A Great Recording of an Opera That Should Be Performed More
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 10/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Massanet's MANON is a work that is no stranger to the stage in New York City where it has had a glorious history at both the Met and the New York City Opera though this is not the case around the world. Its frequent New York performances may make it Massanet's most staged opera. For those familiar with the work, it is a favorite. It has all the elements that make French opera great, but it is not a work that has familiar excerpts. As a matter of fact, Massanet's bets known melodies are from lesser known works, such as the "Meditation" from THAIS and Porquoi me Revelier" from WERTHER. Yet when MANON is broadcast from the Met or if one takes out a recording, it's easy to understand why this work has been a favorite of so many for over a century and begs the question `Why isn't this work performed more often?'
Like great French opera, MANON is a work that is a bit larger than life, requires exquisite orchestral playing, and of course great singing. This set, originally released by Westminster in the 1970's and re-released by Duetsche Grammophon has it all. The vocal abilities of the three leading performers: Beverly Sills, Nicolai Gedda and Gabriel Bacquier as Manon, des Grieux, and Lescaut respectively are each in top vocal form. Sills herself states that Manon was a role she loved and one that she believed her voice was well suited for, and there can be no disputation when listening to this set. As a conductor, Julius Rudel is at his best. He has great control over the New Philharmonia Orchestra, creating lush sounds that make the recording spectacular and an added, but essential plus would be the outstanding choral performances by the Ambrosian Opera Chorus and the great performances of the smaller roles.
Just about every reviewer, from Amazon reviewers to the critics who write for OPERA NEWS have heralded the new availability of this recording. Listen to it, and you will understand why and echo the many praises of this set.
Beverly Sills Triumphs As Manon
Rudy Avila | Lennox, Ca United States | 05/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The French opera Manon, by Jules Massenet, is an opera that is rarely performed in the opera stage today. It's an exquisite and divine work of vocal music and drama, with the most definative French sound ever. The lyrical flow and continuity of the arias, as well as the dramatic touches that are reminiscient of Verdi's La Traviata, are incredible. This recording has been made many times before, originally on LP and then on cd. This newest release has digitally remastered the whole production. Beverly Sills and Nicolai Gedda star as tragic lovers Manon and Des Grieux. Set in France in the 1700's, the romantic story follows the career of Manon, a flirty, vivacious material girl who gives up true love but regrets it only to die in the arms of her true love. Beverly Sills raised the bar for all sopranos as Manon. Along with her Queen Elizabeth in Roberto Devereux, which is her best in the Italian repertoire, this is her best in the French.Beverly's natural French voice, which seems to be in her soul, makes for a fantastic Manon. She's got the right type of lyric voice, which is touching and admirable to hear. All fans of the diva are not going to be without this new recording. Nicolai Gedda, a Swedish tenor, is right up there with the more famous tenors Pavoratti and Placido Domingo. Nicolai Gedda has the great inflection and romanticism needed for Des Grieux. The music of Jules Massenet is orchestral magic and appropriate for this La Traviata in French sort to speak. It's good opera and the price is high right now because it's still a new album."