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Subject: Met / Manon Lescaut review / FT
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 15 Nov 2016 11:09:59 -0800

text/plain (40 lines)

Financial Times / Arts / 11/15/2016

  Manon Lescaut, Metropolitan Opera, New York — review

Anna Netrebko conquered all in an otherwise awkward production of Puccini’s opera

    by: Martin Bernheimer <>

/Manon Lescaut/encountered some troubles when the Met introduced its latest version <>last season. Jonas Kaufmann, the scheduled hero, withdrew, citing illness, and his late replacement, Roberto Alagna, virtually improvised his tenoral way through the challenge. Complicating matters, Richard Eyre (the director) and Rob Howell (the designer) dressed the mess with an awkward, ugly mishmash of crusty operatic tradition and quasi-semi-postmodern reinterpretation.

They moved the inaction to the Nazi era, for no obvious reason. Within this forced milieu, they toyed awkwardly with Art Nouveau trappings, clumsy symbols, would-be verismo distortions, and the latest of pictorial clichés, architecture that crumbles as tragedy progresses.

The silly business stayed intact on Monday. But a mostly new cast did offer some musical compensation. Most important, Anna Netrebko took over the title role. She came, she sang, she acted — oh, how she acted — and she conquered.

Netrebko is now in her mid-forties, and her soprano is turning rather heavy and dark (Aida looms in her future). When required to be seductive, she vamped like a misplaced sex-bombette. Still, the beloved diva sustained exquisite control of her vast vocal resources, enriching line after line with gleaming tone and subtle nuance.

Marcelo Álvarez, her potentially potent Chevalier des Grieux, provided ultimately monotonous demonstrations of bawl-canto. Christopher Maltman contributed sturdiness as Manon’s brother, and Brindley Sherratt (of Lancashire) returned as a brilliantly sinister Geronte. Marco Armiliato, ever sympathetic and ever supportive, protected Puccini in the pit.

Incidental intelligence: even with Netrebko on the bill and popular Puccini on glamorous display, the house yawned with unsold seats. It gives one pause.


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