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Massenet His Life and Music DVD
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55 minute documentary

Richard Bonynge (Narrator)

Rosamund Illing, Richard Bonynge and The Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra (Sound Track: Amoureuse)

Composer(s):  Massenet
Catalogue Number:  MR2000
"a cogent argument for Massenet's enduring popularity." Opera Now (UK)
"The DVD production is excellent in every respect and has been compiled with no expense spared ... opera buffs can watch with pleasure." MusicWeb International (UK)
" ... a seriously good-looking DVD, adding enormously to what is a well thought out programme. Michael DVD (Australia)
"... masterly piece of film which establishes a standard for the future of music documentaries ... directorial ingenuities are striking ..." The Age (Australia)
"... Bonynge has been championing Massenet's music for at least 30 years ... ' the most prolific and popular composer working in his time... The Age (Australia)
  • Also available as VHS

Narrated by Richard Bonynge, this 55 minute documentary on the life and music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) the most successful and popular composer in Europe during his lifetime. It features Dame Joan Sutherland, Thomas Hampson, Rosamund Illing, Rodney Milnes and over a dozen interviews with world authorities on Massenet. It was filmed in London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Montreux and Sydney.

Richard Bonynge AO CBE, Jean Christophe Branger, John Cox, Hugues Cuenod, Dr Annegret Fauser, Thomas Hampson, Dr James Harding, Rosamund Illing, Graham Johnson, Noël Lee, Madame Anne Bessand-Massenet, Rodney Milnes, Andrew Porter, Janine Reiss, Manuel Rosenthal, Dame Joan Sutherland, OM, AC, DBE, Dr Roland van der Hoeven.

Massenet's operas are so wonderfully crafted, the surface is so brilliant and so seductive that people don't actually bother to look what's underneath that surface to see the extraordinary psychological penetration in his portrayal of his characters.

The documentary is rich in atmosphere, filmed in Massenet's chateau in Egreville, near Fontainebleau. We meet the composer's descendent, Anne Bessand-Massenet, and see his bedroom, the piano he composed on, and many hitherto unseen photos.

We visit, in Montreux, the home of Dame Joan Sutherland and her husband, the great Massenet champion Richard Bonynge, who talk of their love for Massenet's music. The revered singer Hugues Cuenod, in Vevey, discusses his operas with their unfailing perfection of setting the French language.

We visit Rome where Massenet studied, and London to meet the Massenet biographer Dr James Harding, and the Massenet specialist Rodney Milnes. Distinguished pianist Graham Johnson shares his insights into the music.

In Brussels we see the Theatre de La Monnaie, where Massenet had his first success, and in Paris, we hear from famous French vocal coach, Janine Reis, an expert in the Massenet style. We also see Richard Bonynge and Australian soprano Rosamund Illing rehearsing Massenet arias at the piano in Sydney.

The soundtrack is a luscious new recording, with the Australian Opera Orchestra and Richard Bonynge of Massenet's music. We also see excerpts of Manon from the Vienna Philharmonic and Edita Gruberova, and Cendrillon, with Frederika von Stade.

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We note with sadness the death of John Murray, an important pioneer of the Australian film industry. John worked with the Melba team on the Massenet documentary, imparting inspiration and vital...

Richard Bonynge (Narrator)

Rosamund Illing, Richard Bonynge and The Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra (Sound Track: Amoureuse)



Richard Bonynge AO CBE

Jean Christophe Branger

John Cox

Hugues Cuenod

Dr Annegret Fauser

Thomas Hampson

Dr James Harding

Rosamund Illing

Graham Johnson

Noël Lee

Madame Anne Bessand-Massenet

Rodney Milnes

Andrew Porter

Janine Reiss

Manuel Rosenthal

Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE

Dr Roland van der Hoeven.

Piano Rehearsal: Rosamund Illing & Richard Bonynge

Executive Producer

Maria Vandamme


Scott Murray


Richard Bonynge

Director of Photography

David Haskins


Laurie Robinson


Tim Lewis


Michelle Jeffries