Premiered in 1889 at the Teatro Regio (Turin, Italy), Manon Lescaut is an opera in four acts and Giacomo Puccini's first success. The plot was written after L'Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut ("The Story of the knight Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut") by the Abbé Prévost, a French author of the 18th century. Two other operas drew their inspiration from the same novel: Manon by Jules Massenet and Manon Lescaut by Daniel Auber (more recently, Kenneth MacMillan made a ballet of Manon's story: L'Histoire de Manon).
Manon Lescaut's plot is a tragic love story between Manon and her lover Des Grieux, of whom the hope to live together is always thwarted by a lack of money, the wickedness of a rival, a deportation to the United States. Once arrived in the virgin lands of Louisiana, Manon and Des Grieux are in a state of utter exhaustion and suffer from malnutrition. After a vain attempt to find water to quench their thirst, Manon dies in the arms of her lover Des Grieux ("Fra le tue braccia, amore").
Astrid Weber (Manon Lescaut) and Zurab Zurabishvili (Des Grieux) embody with majesty this unfortunate couple, together until their last breath.
Peter Schneider, Christoph Marthaler – Robert Dean Smith (Tristan), Robert Holl (King Marke) – Bayreuther Festspielhaus
Jules Massenet – Tamara Rojo (Manon), Carlos Acosta (Des Grieux) – The Royal Ballet
Orchestra and choirs of the Opéra de Paris, Georges Sébastian (conductor)