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Subject: Manon Lescaut at the Met - Monday 11/14
From: Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 15 Nov 2016 21:29:01 -0800

text/plain (91 lines)

I was at the Monday evening's Manon Lescaut at the Met. It is my favorite
Puccini work and earlier this year I saw Alagna stepping in for Kaufmann at
the Met (with some hoarseness of his own) opposite Opooais and last year
Opolais paired up with Kaufmann in Munich in a sparse production by
Neunfels.  Musical interpretation wise Kaufmann was the most exciting Des
Grieux but I was quite moved by Alagna's interpretation as well. 


To tell the truth I was dreading to hear Alvarez' Des Grieux (was expecting
possibly Yusif Eyvazov - whom I heard in the concert in Santa Monica earlier
this year along with Netrebko and actually proved be a musically solid,
engaging singer - warming up in the wings) but Alvarez gave a better than
expected performance with a fresh and reasonably youthful sound. His acting
was quite monotonous (either stretching out both arms for pleading or
covering up his face with them for despair) and although I found Alagna to
have been much more compelling Des Grieux, Alvarez gave a decent


Because Netrebko has been so effective as Massnet's Manon that I've been
waiting to hear her interpretation of Puccini heroine. 

At first I was a bit puzzled how the role felt like it sat too low for her
or the voice gave off a feeling of heaviness especially in the first act.
Her strength in focused expression and her gift of being able use her
beautiful phrasing to make audience hold its collective breath found her
comfort zone in later le Havre and New Orleans scenes. Act II was mostly
comic relief and some attempt to create chemistry which was most not there.
However in "in quelle trine morbide" the serious side of Netrebko took over
and it was the most moving piece in the first half. 


Netrebko can certainly act out being glamorous or seductive with no
hesitations - at one point Manon even flirted with the chief madrigal singer
while being serenaded by group of them. As a bored trophy lover she greeted
the guests blowing Marilyn Monroe style kisses and her dance lesson scene
was much less mannered than Opolais' interpretation but the choreography (or
improvision) ended up in some oddly shaped body-entanglement of  threesome -
Manon, Geronte and the dance teacher)


Lecaut was excellently sung by Christopher Maltman, I liked the way he
portrayed the character, less flashy and self-important as often played. 


Armiliato conducting without the score (ditto on Friday night's Aida) and at
time without urgency which made some of my favorite part of music fizzle (my
Manon Lescaut guilty pleasure orchestration is the end of Act II when
Lescaut describes impending police raid - you can almost hear the horses
galloping - and Manon freaking out trying to collect all her jewelry
ignoring Des Grieux's plea)


One refreshing decision is the last scene - as you may recall from last year
this production has an accident prone looking set with a high staircases in
act II and a ruined building with sharp concrete blocks in Act 4 (I recall
Oploais and Alagna painfully squeezed between sharp concrete blocks saying
their last farewell in a very uncomfortable position)

Netrebko on the other hand decided to climb out of the pile of concrete
blocks as soon as Des Grieux is off to find something to drink, defiantly
standing in the center stage delivered "sola perduta e abbandonata" and
pretty much sang the entire scene with her feet firmly planted on the ground
except the last few bars where her legs started giving away as she couldn't
quite finish her last words "ma l'amor mio non muor."




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