The New York Times, JULY 31, 2015
Puccini: Manon Lescaut, München, July 28, 2015
Hitting All the High Notes in Munich
Ausschnitt aus einem Artikel über die Opernfestspiele in München:
.....Ms. Netrebko’s participation was another of Mr. Bachler’s coups, a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. She had been scheduled last fall for the premiere of the “Manon Lescaut” production, but dropped out after clashing with the director, Hans Neuenfels. Inserted instead into these festival performances of “Onegin,” she was replaced as Manon, in November and this summer, by Kristine Opolais, a detailed, ardent actress with a soprano that’s clean but bodiless and colorless, a pencil drawing in lieu of a painting. Her Des Grieux, sung by the tenor Jonas Kaufmann, was the real star here, his tone dark-hued and stormy; as her brother, Lescaut, the baritone Markus Eiche sang with scowling intensity.

The production was less inspired. While Mr. Neuenfels has in the past produced precise, multilayered stagings, like Wagner’s “Lohengrin” as a rat-filled experiment at the Bayreuth Festival, his “Manon Lescaut” shows signs of uncertainty. At first he seems to be indicting society’s obsession with acquisition and its degradation of women: The chorus is a mass of flame-haired, pear-shaped grotesques; piles of jewels sparkle on a nearly bare stage; and the cataloguing of female criminals is a severe, sobering affair.

Perhaps Ms. Opolais’s Manon was a bit more depressive than usual in the first act, which is normally cheerful. But too often this felt like a standard-issue “Lescaut,” just with less furniture. There was no chill in the conception of the characters and situations to match the effectively icy sets.....

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