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Met Opera HD presents ‘Manon Lescaut’ in Breckenridge

Elmer Koneman and Cecile Forsberg
Special to the Daily
The Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Manon Lescaut,” will be held at the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge on Saturday, March 5, beginning at 11 a.m.
Special to the Daily |

IF YOU GO

What: Met Opera HD broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Manon Lescaut”

When: Saturday, March 5, 11 a.m.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Finkel Auditorium; 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge

Cost: Student $10 / Senior (65+) $16 / Adult $20; purchase tickets by calling (970) 453-5825 or nromusic.com

The Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Manon Lescaut,” will be held at the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge on Saturday, March 5, beginning at 11 a.m.

Puccini’s early desire to introduce passion, longing and despair into his opera compositions began with this early opera, “Manon Lescaut,” premiered in Turin, Italy in February 1893. The score was based on an early 18th century novel of the same name by Abbe Prevost. Indeed, passion, longing and despair are highlights of this opera.

The story is of an 18-year-old girl, Manon (sung by Kristine Opolais), who is being sent by her father to a convent, escorted by her brother, Lescaut (sung by Italian baritone Massimo Cavalletti) and the elderly Geronte (English bass Brindley Sherratt), a wealthy Parisian gallant.

They first appear in Act 1 of the opera arriving at a lively choral rendition of a student gathering set in year 1721 at a public square in Amiens, France. A chivalrous young man, Chevilier des Grieux (sung by Roberto Alagna), is serenading fellow students. He soon meets up with the newly arrived Manon and becomes immediately infatuated. Their mutual love soon becomes consummated, as expressed in a classic opening vocal duet in which Manon is persuaded to elope with him to Paris. Geronte returns to fetch Manon; outraged to find her gone.

Act II opens at an elaborate apartment in Paris. Manon’s elopement with des Grueux obviously failed as she is now reintroduced as Geront’s mistress. Lescaut, during a visit, informs Manon that he has contacted des Grieux letting him know of her whereabouts. Geronte next appears with a group of friends who pay tribute to Manon’s beauty as she is involved in a dancing lesson. When this scene comes to an end, Lescaut arrives with Des Crieux, who again in an aria professes his love to Manon. Geronte returns unexpectedly. When finding them in each other’s arms, he departs in a rage and denounces Manon to the police. She is soon put under arrest.

Acts III involves Lescaut and Des Grieux’s waiting at the harbor of Le Havre to rescue the prisoner Manon from being deported to America. Des Grieux ultimately convinces the captain of the prison ship to allow him on board also. Act IV then takes place in a wasteland on the outskirts of New Orleans. Manon, now alone, at the end of her strength and in despair as — expressed in a memorable aria, “Alone and Abandoned” — in the final scene is seen dying in the arms of Des Grieux as the curtain falls.

For this new Met production the stage manager, Sir Richard Eyre, has kept the setting in the northern French city of Amiens but has advanced the date to 1941, at the time of the German occupation in World War II. According to one reviewer, “one must assume the Nazis in Amiens were more interested in rounding up hookers than Jews or Partisans.”

This upstaged production of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” has been described in a recent review as having captured passion and despair to a high level of achievement. Of note has also been recognition of support from the magnificent Met Orchestra under the brilliant baton of conductor Fabio Luisi’s, described in a recent review as “consistently commanding the score with unerring vision.” The choral ensembles long with Rob Howell’s set designs and modern day costuming have also received high acclaim.

The upstaged production of this Puccini opera, as always, will be an engaging experience for all who attend. Snacks and beverages will be served at the intermission.


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