Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Manon Lescaut
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Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Manon Lescaut 

Radio Broadcast and Live in HD Transmission of Saturday, March 5, 2016, 12:55 P.M. (ET) (HD) 1:00 P.M. (ET) (Radio)

BRoadcast Manon Lescaut thmb 416
Act III of Richard Eyre’s staging of Manon Lescaut at Baden-Baden
© Monika Rittershaus/Baden-Baden Festival
 

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The 2015–16 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation, The Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media, and through contributions from listeners worldwide.

 
Manon Lescaut  
 
Music by GIACOMO PUCCINI
Libretto by DOMENICO OLIVA, MARCO PRAGA, LUIGI ILLICA and others,
based on the novel L’Histoire du Chevalier
des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, by Abbé Prévost 
THE CAST    
(in order of vocal appearance)
Edmondo  tenor, ZACH BORICHEVSKY 
Des Grieux  tenor, ROBERTO ALAGNA 
Lescaut  baritone, MASSIMO CAVALLETTI 
Innkeeper  bass, PHILIP COKORINOS 
Geronte de Ravoir  bass, BRINDLEY SHERRATT 
Manon Lescaut  soprano, KRISTINE OPOLAIS 
Musician  mezzo, VIRGINIE VERREZ 
Madrigal Singers  soprano, MARIA D’AMATO 
  alto, CHRISTINA THOMSON ANDERSON 
  alto, STEPHANIE CHIGAS 
  alto, ROSALIE SULLIVAN 
Dancing Master  tenor, SCOTT SCULLY 
Sergeant  bass-baritone, BRANDON CEDEL 
Lamplighter  tenor, ANDREW BIDLACK 
Captain  bass, RICHARD BERNSTEIN 

Conducted by FABIO LUISI

The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus

Production: Richard Eyre
Set designer: Rob Howell
Costume designer: Fotini Dimou
Lighting designer: Peter Mumford
Choreographer: Sara Erde
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Joan Dornemann,
Robert Morrison, Lydia Brown,
Bryan Wagorn, Sesto Quatrini

Assistant stage directors: J. Knighten Smit,
Paula Williams

Prompter: Joan Dornemann
Italian coach: Loretta Di Franco

Production a gift of
Helen and Bengt Agerup
and Rolex

A coproduction of the Metropolitan Opera
and the Baden-Baden Festival 
 
THE SCENES    
Timings (ET)  
(France and America, 1940s)
ACT I Square in Amiens1:00–1:44
ACT II Geronte’s Paris House2:16–2:57
ACT IIILe Havre Harbor3:27–
ACT IVLouisiana Plain–4:26
Host: Mary Jo Heath 
Commentator: Ira Siff 
Music producer: Jay David Saks 
Producers: Ellen Keel, William Berger 
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,  
Elena Park 
Directed for live cinema by Gary Halvorson 
HD host: Sondra Radvanovsky 
 
This performance is also being broadcast
on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SiriusXM 
channel 74. 
 
Send quiz questions to Metropolitan Opera Quiz, 
Metropolitan Opera, 30 Lincoln Center, 
New York, NY 10023,
 

THE STORY 

ACT I. Outside an inn at Amiens, around 1720. Edmondo, his fellow students and their girlfriends amuse themselves. When des Grieux appears, they taunt the youth for his lack of success in love; he retorts with a teasing serenade to the girls. Soon the courtyard stirs with the arrival of a carriage bearing Manon and her brother, Lescaut, who is escorting the girl to a convent at their father's orders. Sharing the coach with them is the aging Geronte, a wealthy Parisian gallant. While the Innkeeper shows Lescaut and Geronte to their quarters, des Grieux introduces himself to Manon, but she is called away by her brother. The Chevalier rhapsodizes on her beauty. Geronte, encouraged by Lescaut's wordly ambitions for Manon, bribes the Innkeeper to arrange for her abduction; overhearing the plan, Edmondo alerts des Grieux. As evening falls, Manon keeps a promise she made to meet des Grieux, who persuades her to evade both the convent and her elderly admirer by running off to Paris with him instead. Geronte returns to find the young lovers escaping in the carriage he hired for himself and Manon; furious, he is soon calmed by the tipsy Lescaut, who assures him a girl who loves luxury will be easy to lure away from a poor student.

ACT II. True to Lescaut's prediction, Manon has abandoned des Grieux and is installed in a sumptuous Paris apartment provided by Geronte. When Lescaut calls to congratulate her on her success, she pensively replies that luxury cannot make up for the loss of des Grieux. Her discontent is not relieved by the arrival of musicians to sing a madrigal composed by Geronte, but Manon's vanity is aroused when some of her sponsor's friends call to pay tribute to her glamour. Geronte joins them in watching the girl's dancing lesson. To the strains of a minuet, she sings a song in praise of love. When Geronte and the admirers leave, Manon is confronted by des Grieux, obligingly summoned by Lescaut to ease her boredom. At first reproaching Manon as faithless, des Grieux soon gives in to her beauty and her insistent declarations of true love. Just as the two embrace, Geronte surprises them; when Manon holds up a mirror to mock his age, he leaves in fury, hinting at prompt vengeance. Lescaut bursts in to warn that police are on their way. Though des Grieux begs her to escape with him at once, she tarries to gather up her jewels. The delay proves disastrous; led in by Geronte, gendarmes drag the girl off to prison as a thief.

ACT III. On a street by the harbor of Le Havre, des Grieux and Lescaut wait for the dawn, hoping to rescue Manon from being deported as an undesirable. When she comes to the bars of her prison, the lovers once again exchange vows but are interrupted by a Lamplighter's plaintive song. At the sound of a shot, Lescaut, running in to warn that the plot to abduct Manon has been discovered, forces des Grieux to take cover. Soon a band of soldiers leads in the women prisoners. As a Sergeant calls the roll, they go on board ship, some defiant, some in tears. A curious crowd gathers and comments. Manon sobs farewell to des Grieux, who in desperation begs the Ship's Captain to let him accompany Manon to the New World. Moved by his pleading, the Captain agrees.

ACT IV. Wandering in a wasteland where they have fled after landing at New Orleans, the weary, ailing Manon can go no farther and lies down to rest. When des Grieux goes off in search of help, the girl is seized by terror and despair. At his return, Manon, pledging eternal love, dies in his arms.

THE BACKGROUND 

When Manon Lescaut, his third opera and first real success, had its premiere in 1893, Giacomo Puccini was poor and obscure, living on a retainer from his publisher, Ricordi. Other composers had already set the Manon story to music; to avoid duplication with Massenet's popular Manon, Puccini chose different episodes of the plot and simplified its action, releasing a flood of melodic inspiration that established Manon Lescaut as the first fulfillment of his genius for setting tales of ill-starred heroines. 

The Story of the Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut (1731), by Antoine François (Abbé) Prévost, has been called the first roman d'amour (romantic novel). Prévost's tale mirrors the period after the death of Louis XIV (1638-1715), when France's artistocrats succumbed to libertinism; its hero's infatuation with the luxury-loving Manon causes him to throw away respectability and fall into moral decline.

Manon Lescaut's premiere, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, was an enormous success, with Cesira Ferrani, later Puccini's first Mimì, and Giuseppe Cremonini as Manon and des Grieux. Enrico Caruso and Lina Cavalieri were the stars of the Met's first Manon Lescaut, in 1907. The Met's current production dates from the 1979-80 season, when Renata Scotto and Plácido Domingo sang the lovers under the baton of James Levine.

WHAT TO READ AND HEAR 

Charles Osborne's The Complete Operas of Puccini: A Critical Guide (DaCapo) and William Berger's Puccini Without Excuses (Vintage) are both useful introductions to the composer and his work. Mary Jane Phillips-Matz's richly detailed Puccini: A Biography is highly recommended.

On CD, the Metropolitan Opera's vivid 1992 recording under James Levine fields Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti as its persuasive principals (Decca). Freni is in slightly fresher voice for Giuseppe Sinopoli in his compelling Covent Garden Manon Lescaut from the early 1980s (DG); Plácido Domingo is the set's superlative des Grieux.

On DVD, the clear recommendation is the Met's 1980 telecast of Gian Carlo Menotti's neatly detailed staging, with Levine pacing Domingo and Renata Scotto (DG). Maria Guleghina and José Cura offer red-blooded performances in Liliana Cavani's La Scala production, conducted by Riccardo Muti (TDK). spacer 

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