Jules Massenet’s passionate and tragic opera, Manon, is the second of this season’s Live in HD cinema broadcasts by Metropolitan Opera. The largest provider of alternative cinema content in the world, the Met is broadcasting a season of ten productions live from the stage at Lincoln Center to cinemas in more than 70 countries on six continents.
This revival of Manon by Laurent Pelly stars Lisette Oropesa in the title role, with Michael Fabiano as the Chevalier des Grieux. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus are led by conductor Maurizio Benini.
Jules Massenet – regarded as the leading French operatic composer of his day – had a particular gift for portraying the intimacies of human relations, and Manon is considered by many to be his masterpiece. It was written in 1884, with a libretto by Henri Meilhac & Philippe Gille, and based on the 1731 novel L’Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. Set in 18th century Paris, it reflects a time when decadence, corruption and depravity were rife in the city.
The opera tells of a beautiful, but desperately poor young girl, whose love of romance is matched only by her love of wealth. Adored by the student Des Grieux, she elopes with him to Paris, but their idyll is interrupted by the intrusion of Manon’s brother, Lescaut, and Monsieur GM, a wealthy older man to whom Lescaut has sold her. Attracted by the lure of the luxury on offer, Manon deserts Des Grieux.
Manon and Des Grieux meet up again at a night of revelry in the establishment of a local Madame, and they escape together after he’s caught cheating at cards. They are both sent to a penal colony in America, where Manon – ill and exhausted – collapses in Des Grieux’s arms and dies.
Cuban American soprano Lisette Oropesa has been described by Spain’s Notodo as “… one of those exceptional things …. like Halley’s Comet”, and according to Place de l’Opera, “everything she touches turns to gold”. Winner of the 2019 Beverly Sills Award and the Richard Tucker Award, she appears in two of opera’s most demanding roles in the current Met season – Manon, and Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata. Appearances later this season include her debut at Teatro alla Scala as Amalia in Verdi’s I Masnadieri.
Tenor Michael Fabiano also has the double honor of winning both the Beverly Sills and Richard Tucker awards – in 2014 he was the first singer to achieve both in the same year. His Royal Opera debut as Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in 2015 was described by The Independent as “out of this world”. Later this season, Mr Fabiano will sing the title role in Don Carlo at both Opéra Bastille and The Royal Opera, the role of Hoffman in Les Contes d’Hoffman at Opéra Bastille, and Alfredo in La Traviata at the Teatro Real. He is one of the founders of ArtSmart, a non-profit organization that provides free voice lessons to students in public schools in under-served neighborhoods within the United States.
Also in the cast are Carlo Bosi (Guillot de Morfontaine), Artur Ruciński (Lescaut), Brett Polegato (de Brétigny), Kwangchul Youn (Comte des Grieux)
Specializing in the French and Italian repertoire, conductor Maurizio Benini is a frequent guest at opera houses such as the Met, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paris Opéra, Vienna State Opera, Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Real in Madrid, La Scala Milan, La Fenice in Venice, and the Glyndebourne Festival. This season, he’ll lead performances of La Traviata at The Royal Opera House, Nabucco at De Nationale Opera in Amsterdam, and return to the Met for Maria Stuarda.
Having worked in some of the world’s most prestigious opera houses, French opera and theatre director Laurent Pelly, who often does costume designs as well, has an exciting list of new productions scheduled this season – La Cenerentola for Dutch National Opera and Offenbach’s Le Voyage Dans La Lune for L’Opéra Comique. Revivals include I Puritani at Opéra national de Paris, Le Roi Carotte in Lyon and Don Pasquale in Seville.
A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala, Milan and Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Manon is sung in French, with titles in English, German, Spanish and Italian, and will be broadcast Live in HD in cinemas around the world on October 26th.
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