The Met Streams Manon – Again

By Lynne Gray, PhD

Please note this can be viewed at metopera.org.

Thursday, June 25
Massenet’s Manon
~ 2Hrs and 56Mins

Starring Lisette Oropesa, Michael Fabiano, Carlo Bosi, Artur Ruciński, Brett Polegato, and Kwangchul Youn, conducted by Maurizio Benini. From October 26, 2019.

Ever since graduating from the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Lisette Oropesa has had a meteoric rise to the top of the international opera world, excelling in many of the most iconic parts of the soprano repertoire. During the 2019–20 season, she returned to the Met to star as the irresistible heroine of Massenet’s Manon. As the young ingénue turned courtesan, Oropesa delivers a stunning performance, marked by her luscious coloratura, melting lyricism, and enchanting stage presence. The New York Times’ review proclaimed her performance alone was worth more than the ticket price! This performance also features tenor Michael Fabiano as the impetuous Chevalier des Grieux and baritone Artur Ruciński as Manon’s cousin, Lescaut. Maurizio Benini is on the podium to lead one of the most passionate scores in the French operatic repertoire.

A beautiful and initially innocent young woman with a taste for the finer things winds up in Paris (rather than in the convent where she was originally headed), and becomes irresistible to the men around her—including the passionate Chevalier des Grieux, the wealthy nobleman de Brétigny, and Guillot, an aging rake. Each in his own way uses her and contributes to her downfall. Based on the same scandalous 18th-century novella that inspired Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Massenet’s version features one of the all-time most challenging, and most beguiling roles for a soprano, as well as treats us to the composer’s trademark combination of sophistication and sensuality.

The Met streamed the 2012 Netrebko version of this opera (same Laurent Pelly production) on April 24th – so I refer you to my article on that one for the story and background. As I have said before, even in the same production of a particular opera, the cast can make it a completely different experience – and it is extremely rare that you will ever be able to see any production with a fully ideal cast. These two different Met Manon casts are definitely like that.

Netrebko is unquestionably opera’s reigning diva and there are few who can equal her acting or her singing abilities. Oropesa is just coming into her own as a certified world-renowned diva; her voice is younger, fresher and more agile than Netrebko’s – and that is why I prefer Oropesa in this particular role — she is young enough to fit the part far better and she has a voice that is absolutely beautiful to hear.

As far as Manon’s lover, Des Grieux goes, Beczala was also a bit too stayed for my taste, too suave and sophisticated for the passionate, impulsive young Des Grieux….Fabiano fits the part far better, and while his voice is not as elegant as Beczala’s, it is warm, passionate and believable in this opera.

So – if you watched the Netrebko version – you should watch this one too and compare. I far prefer this one – but that’s just me. If you didn’t see the Netrebko version – this is the Manon to watch!

Picture Credits

1.              Lisette Oropesa as the title character in Massenet’s “Manon” at the Met. Photo Credit: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

2.              Lisette Oropesa as Manon and Michael Fabiano as des Grieux in Massenet’s “Manon” at the Met. Photo Credit: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

3.               Lisette Oropesa as Manon and Michael Fabiano as des Grieux in Massenet’s “Manon” at the Met. Photo Credit: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

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