Massenet's Manon

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Diana Damrau as Manon Diana Damrau as Manon (Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera)

Tune in on Saturday at 12:30 pm to hear the Metropolitan Opera's production of Jules Massenet's Manon. The title role of the popular French opera is sung by German soprano Diana Damrau, who has previously sung the role in the Vienna State Opera. 

In her first Met performance of the role of Manon, Damrau sings alongside Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo as Chevalier des Grieux. The five-act opéra comique – which, in Laurent Pelly's staging is updated to late-19th-century France – is based on the Abbé Prévost's 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut.

The performance also features French bass-baritone Nicolas Testé as Count des Grieux and Canadian baritone Russell Braun as Manon's cousin Lescaut. Met regular Emmanuel Villaume conducts the production. 

ManonDiana Damrau
Chevalier des GrieuxVittorio Grigolo
LescautRussell Braun
Count des GrieuxNicolas Testé
Conductor: Emmanuel Villaume

Comments [8]

Interesting, on-topic comments all the way around, including the references to musical plagiarism as recently discussed here at WQXR.


Mar. 22 2015 12:46 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Thanks for the replies from Casta Diva and Concetta about the updating I wrote about, and also about the corps de ballet being disbanded: a darn shame, but there aren't enough operas with ballets in the repertory these days to warrant one. I'm glad the "Manon" ballet music was included. I guess I'll never hear a completely uncut performance either live or recorded. The cuts were small in Act I and Act IV. I thought the conducting was crisp and incisive as far as articulation and spot on as regards tempos, except for what I felt was a "La Re^ve" that was too slow and therefore difficult for Des Grieux to sustain the line. I enjoyed the sense of vulnerability today's Manon demonstrated especially in her opening music and in the "petite table" aria. Curiously, Des Grieux's line immediately after is "Enfin, Manon, nous voila' seuls ensemble!" but I only heard "...seul ensemble", omitting the previous bar. I thought cousin Lescaut was the most solid and dependable throughout and I enjoyed his performance very much. Acts I and II were played together then intermission one; then came Act III by itself followed by the second intermission; finally, Acts IV and V. And the big lesson I learned today was from the Marschallin in writing that "La Carmagnolle" is indeed in "Manon" and not just in "Andrea Chenier". The orchestra score was right in front of me and I still didn't get it! That's the reason why I always like to read everyone's comments here. Evoking the past, I'm stuck on Jarmila Novotna and Richard Crooks as the principals at the Met, Mafalda Favero and Giuseppe di Stefano at La Scala (though in Italian), and Jeanette Pilou and Jaime Aragall at the Vienna State Opera.

Mar. 21 2015 05:06 PM
Phyllis Minch from Norwood,N.J.

I agree that when productions are "updated" the exterior updates often do not match the values and customs of the
era in which the libretto is set.I sometimes find it off-putting, but i still enjoyed the Manon broadcast. Damrau was wonderful. Grigolo is not
(yet) Bjoerling but his passion and enthusiasm will do very well for this Saturday broadcast.

Mar. 21 2015 04:53 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

Mr.Grigolo's voice very light but OK for these roles and not Verdi roles. I will refrain from some of the snarky remarks I have made in the past about his voice since I am trying to be a kinder, gentler Concetta.
Ruined forever by listening to Bjoerling, Gedda, DiStefano whilst growing up.

Mar. 21 2015 02:41 PM
The Marschallin from Manhattan

Is any one else aware that the music theme at the beginning of this act is "La Carmagnolle" a revolutionary song used to lead frivolous nobles through Paris to the guillotine?

Mar. 21 2015 02:28 PM
CastaDiva from New York, N Y

@Les from Miami, Florida
"By the way, does the Met have a corp de ballet anymore?"

No, it disbanded it two years ago.

Mar. 21 2015 02:23 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Les: Yes, another update. This opera is lovely and does not need an

Mar. 21 2015 11:43 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

I admit to feeling crestfallen in the knowledge that once again an "update" has been effected on a perennial masterpiece. It will be interesting to hear whether any of the four Act III ballet entrances, marked "Pre'amble" will be part of this production if at all. By the way, does the Met have a corp de ballet anymore? What's more, the offstage music marked "musique dans les coulisses" is clearly in the style of the 18th Century and is therefore out of place in a 19th Century "update". The two principals are young and exciting singers, to be sure, and I'm looking forward to hearing them. Here's hoping Maitre Villaume will conduct a complete performance with very few if any cuts, speculating from the rather early start time. As a postscript, Massenet didn't harbor a grudge toward Puccini for his "Manon Lescaut". On the contrary, in 1898 he asked Ricordi, Puccini's publisher, to convey his admiration to him. This, as opposed to the complete hostility of Leoncavallo towards Puccini after the latter told him he, too, was working on "La Bohe'me".

Mar. 21 2015 09:45 AM

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