I love knowing things. I can't help it. In this performance of Massenet's Manon from the Metropolitan Opera in HD I noticed for the first time that there was quite a bit of melodrama. This does not mean corny, overacted soap operas, but instead refers to spoken dialog with orchestral accompaniment instead of recitative or spoken dialog. Since the orchestra never stops playing, it is easy to overlook that occasionally the actors are speaking. Then I read that Manon was a mainstay of the Opéra-Comique in Paris after it premiered in 1884. The original novel is from 1731. The only problem with the opera is that it is too long.
I didn't realize it has been already 7 years since this production debuted. The basketball is still there, but there have been hints that it is supposed to be a hot air balloon. Hot air balloons are not precisely spherical. Enough. Please read the other review for more discussion of the production.
I have only seen Artur Rucinski before in Lucia with Lisette from Madrid. He is very attractive on camera and sings beautifully.
But the performance belonged to Manon and her Des Grieux who received much loud shouting in their bows. This is a great opera for Michael Fabiano, suiting both his voice and his personality to a T. You believe in his love. He made the initial pickup very believable. More Michael please.
Lisette Oropesa precisely embodies the 15 year old innocent who arrives on the train on her way to the convent. It is impossible to picture this lively, passionate and curious girl cut off completely from life. Des Grieux has only good intentions toward her and she towards him. When she learns that Des Grieux's father intends to kidnap him, she knows she must make other plans. Lisette is physically trained and fully capable of the physical requirements of the staging. She ran up and down stairs, fell down and was dragged about, all while singing strongly.
I don't see the diabolical Manon, the evil Manon. I see only someone who wants to enjoy her life, to have fun while she is still young. Everyone seems to work against this. Lisette Oropesa changes as the opera progresses to acquire less innocence and more sophistication. This is an opera for our time, because she is destroyed by a rich old man. Her cheers were well deserved.
I still don't see the bed in the sanctuary. This is bogus.