© Sage Szkabarnicki- Stuart
Concert performance of the opera by Jules Massenet - Conductor: Daniele Rustioni
- Auditorium, Orchestre national de Lyon
3 hours 30 minutes
whose1 intermission (s)
- In French
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Jules Massenet’s adaptation of the Abbé Prévost’s scandalous novel with its spectacular array of styles, higlights the mysterious figure of Manon, so in love with love and the high life that she would die for them. This is a concert version of the opera.
On the road to the convent, the beautiful Manon crosses paths with the Chevalier des Grieux. The two young people fall in love and decide to run away together. But Des Grieux cannot give her the life she dreams of and Manon gives in to the advances of the rich Brétigny. A desperate Des Grieux prepares to enter the priesthood, but Manon again convinces him to run away with her. He eventually falls into gambling and Manon into prostitution.
Manon, that “astonishing sphinx!”
While Massenet’s work is an adaptation of the Abbé Prévost’s novel L'Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et Manon Lescaut - which caused a scandal in its time - the opera only features part of the plot, while paying tribute to the 18th century. Another difference is that Manon is the main character here and represents the different faces of women as defined by male desire. She is the “astonishing sphinx!”, two-sided to the point of mystery. The French opéra-comique style, which mixes spoken and sung passages here strengthens the dramatic structure through its ability to handle a great variety of atmospheres and styles. Thus, we go from pastcihe to pathos, from opera to operetta and even comic opera in a demonstration of musical and vocal virtuosity.
Daniele Rustioni, at the helm of this Manon, continues his series of concert versions of Massenet operas – performed, as here, in their simplest form of musical expression, without staging, sets or costumes – with a spellbinding performance from soprano Patricia Petitbon in the very demanding, sometimes acrobatic role of Manon.
An opera in five acts
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille, based on Abbé Prévost
The Chevalier des Grieux
Lescaut, Manon’s cousin
Guillot de Morfontaine
The Comte des Grieux