Manon Lescaut

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2015_01_manon_lescaut_02_101grey-xlThe story of a simple country girl falling in love, being lured away by a sugar daddy, then reuniting with her early love … and dying with her lover during an escape to a bizarre “arid wasteland” does not require this new production that overwhelms the singers – with a few exceptions. Roberto Alagna, filling in for an ailing Jonas Kaufman, is a strong Chevalier des Grieux. The mighty Met Orchestra under Fabio Luisi is … mighty. Sexy soprano Kristine Opolais is well cast as Manon, but hardly dominates the stage. The ship carrying the lovers into exile appears left over from “The Flying Dutchman” – where it was a center of the action. In an opera house with rows of empty seats it all seems extravagant. And the whole effect is a bit flat.

Ken Roman

 

 

 

 

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Posted: 02/11/16 by Martin McKerrow
We attended the final dress rehearsal of “Manon Lescaut,” which proved to be Puccini’s first successful opera. It was to have an all-star cast with soprano Kristine Opolais in the lead and tenor Jonas Kaufmann as her lover. Unfortunately, Kaufmann backed out and has been replaced by Roberto Alagna who, in doing so, has stepped out of “Pagliacci.”

We enjoyed the opera, the first time we’ve seen it. It is based upon the same novel as Massenet’s “Manon.” Given that only a few years separate the two operas, it seems clear the Puccini felt he had something new to say. Simply put, Manon meets and seems to fall in love with Des Grieux, a student, and runs to Paris with her lover. She quickly throws out Des Grieux and takes up with the wealthy Geronte who can support her in the style she would like. As in many stories like that, it does not end up happily. Opolais is wonderful as Manon, and Alagna survives as Des Grieux. The rest of the cast is good, and the chorus – as expected – is extraordinary. Fabio Luisi leads the wonderful Met Orchestra in what appears to be a challenging score.

This is a new production by Sir Richard Eyre, who has significant experience in opera. He resets this 18th-century story to 1941-occupied France and it worked quite well. The main problem with the opera, in our view, is Manon’s interminable death scene. The problem with this Met production is that with two intermissions, this two-hour opera becomes three.

We recommend it.

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