Exhilarating soprano Lisette Or opesa returns as the irresistible title character in Jules Massenet’s opera Manon, the tragic beauty who yearns for the finer things in life.
Tenor Michael Fabiano is the besotted Chevalier des Grieux, whose desperate love for Manon proves their undoing. Maurizio Benini conducts Massenet’s sensual score.
The world premiere of the opera was performed at the Opèra Comique in Paris in 1884.
The story is the quintessentially French tale of the beautiful young woman who is incapable of forsaking both love and luxury. Massenet’s Manon features one of the truly unforgettable, irresistible and archetypal female characters in opera. The story is firmly set in class and gender issues of the past, but the character of Manon herself is timeless and familiarly convincing.
The French composer Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was wildly popular in his day. His librettists for Manon were Henri Meilhac (1831-1897) and Philippe Gille (1831-1901), who adapted the hugely influential novel L’Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the colourful Abbé Prévost (1697-1763).
The opera is set in an around Paris and includes familiar landmarks such as the church of St. Sulpice.
The opera was originally set in the early 18th century, but the Met’s current production places the story in the late 19th century, the so-called Belle Époque.
Massenet’s score captures the drama of his memorable and tragic heroine with sensually expressive vocal and orchestral writing. There is no shortage of passion and some of the most dramatically (and erotically) charged passages rely on the simplest effects.
Manon by Jules Massenet, HD Live at the Met, can be seen Saturday, Oct. 26, 9:55 a.m., at the Salmar Classic.