Puccini's Manon Lescaut

Götz Friedrich (stage director), Giuseppe Sinopoli (conductor) – With Plácido Domingo (Chevalier des Grieux), Kiri Te Kanawa (Manon Lescaut)...

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Götz Friedrich — Stage director

Günther Schneider-Siemssen — Designer

Aliute Meczies — Costumes

Robert Bryan — Lighting

Kiri Te Kanawa — Manon Lescaut

Thomas Allen — Lescaut

Plácido Domingo — Chevalier Des Grieux

Robin Leggate — Edmondo

Roderick Earle — Hôtelier & Capitaine de Marine

Anna Cooper — Singer

John Fryatt — Dancing Master

Handel Thomas — Sergeant of Archers

Mark Curtis — Lamplighter

Royal Opera Chorus

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Giuseppe Sinopoli — Conductor

Program notes

"Manon Lescaut is a heroine I believe in," wrote Giacomo Puccini to his publisher Giulio Ricordi. Experience Puccini's third opera and first big success in Götz Friedrich's landmark 1983 production at the Royal Opera House. The extraordinary Plácido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa take on the roles of the Chevalier Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut, accompanied by the Royal Opera House Choir and Orchestra under the direction of Giuseppe Sinopoli.

Before Puccini's Manon Lescaut premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1893, the Abbé Prévost's famous eponymous novel had already inspired two other operas: Auber's in 1856 and Massenet's in 1884. But in creating his own Manon, Puccini chose to portray a kind of heroine very different from Massenet's frivolous and fragile incarnation. He instead tells a tragic tale of a condemned love, in all of its modern complexity, using a musical language of harmonic subtlety and audacious instrumentation. Following the Wagnerian principle of "continuous opera", the orchestra provides an uninterrupted musical commentary that helps depict the characters inner feelings, an operatic evolution that had begun with Verdi. The 1893 premiere in Turin—a week before Verdi's Falstaff at La Scala—was a great triumph, and led to Puccini's consecration as the heir to Verdi's artistic legacy. Manon Lescaut also constituted the first in a long line of collaborations with the librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, who would both play a major part in Puccini's next three successes: La Bohème, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly.

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