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What a strange release this is. John Eliot Gardiner makes a surprising appearance conducting Puccini with a blend of analysis and passion, allowing a sense of delicacy to pervade where others might encourage bombast. Graham Vick’s production is rather dull, generally a series of empty boxes with some attempt at directing the singers within with varying degrees of success. Adina Nitescu makes a cute butterball Manon, her voice attractive if slightly too small for the role – her pleasing vocal sheen makes one wonder whether Massenet’s Manon might have been a more suitable fit. Not much of an actress, she has no chemistry with her Des Grieux, Patrick Denniston, whose tenor is well-schooled but lacks squillo – maybe he too would have been more at home in the French version. A good supporting cast goes through the motions, but the whole affair seems strangely muted and provides scant sense of tragedy.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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