“Manon is like any person who, strolling down the street one day, glances up at a second-story window and catches a glimpse of a different life,” explains Vincent Huguet about his staging of Massenet’s Manon, “a life that she suddenly desires ardently … and will do anything to have.” In his update of Prévost’s famous novel, Huguet demonstrates, with empathy and acuity, that Manon’s tale could really be anyone’s.
Next to the two other well-known adaptations of Manon Lescaut for the opera stage (Auber’s in 1856 and Puccini’s in 1893), it is Massenet’s that hews most closely to the novel. All the essential elements of the story are there: the bright-eyed youth of the protagonists, Manon’s uncertainty as to what she truly desires, and des Grieux’s innocence that will harden and shatter in the face of tragedy. Sensational young superstars Benjamin Bernheim (des Grieux) and Pretty Yende (Manon) are accompanied by the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus, under the capable baton of Dan Ettinger.
Benjamin Bernheim appears courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.
Photo: Pretty Yende and Benjamin Bernheim © Julien Benhamou
Tamara Rojo (Manon), Carlos Acosta (Des Grieux) – The Royal Ballet
Ursel Hermann (stage director), Sylvain Cambreling (music director) – With Susan Graham (Sesto), Christoph Prégardien (Tito)