My last night in New York was topped off by seeing the third opera I booked, Manon by Massenet. There are two operatic versions of this story. Puccini wrote a version known as Manon Lescaut. They can easily be confused with each other. It must be a well-known French melodrama to warrant two operas of the same story!
Watching this production live in New York with Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo could only be the ultimate experience. The story is complex and dense. It takes place in Amiens and Paris, and inside the church at St. Sulpice. It portrayed 19th C. France at its best and worst, with many social pressures and expectations surrounding all classes of society.
I was first drawn to this opera listening to the music in the Sirius Metopera Channel. The excellent staging and acting make going to the opera a complete experience. If you looking for lesser-known operas and have the opportunity to catch it, I highly recommend investing in this one. It’s a bit risqué and even blasphemous, but contains all the lust and drama to engage us yet remind us how normal and healthy we are today.
You can see an X-rated clip of the 3rd Act with another diva (and my favorite), Anna Netrebko, in the lead role at http://www.metopera.org/video/2014-15/manon/watch/manon-act-iii-finale-anna-netrebko-piotr-beczala/1532430307001#play. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an exact video of the opera stars who performed last night, but this gives you an idea of the intensity of the act. Des Grieux has joined the priesthood in St. Sulpice and Manon comes back to find her spurned lover there. Note the clever way the columns are erected–askew–to reflect the instability of the situation. Brilliant artistry!
If you thought opera was boring, this will change your mind. I’ll sign off with this thought and the Manon curtain call. Adieu (to God?)!!
Sadly, this is my curtain call for a week’s venture to NYC opera, theater, and museums. Please look for posts from the Dresden Music Festival in May (my fourth in four years!) when friends from Switzerland will be meeting Gee Kin and me. We plan to include side trips to Prague, Czechoslovakia, and revisits to favorite cities Weimar and Moritzburg, both in Germany. (Auf Wiedersehen! Or ’til we see each other again!)
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