Naive Manon is seduced by Chevalier Des Grieux and she runs away with him to avoid being sent to the convent. Gradually she learns to use her beauty to her advantage in the world of men. In... See full summary »

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Episode credited cast:
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Piotr Beczala ...
Chvalier des Grieux
Paulo Szot ...
David Pittsinger ...
Comte des Grieux
Christophe Mortagne ...
Guillot de Morfontaine
Bradley Garvin ...
De Brétigny
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Pousette
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Javotte
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An Innkeeper
Ginger Costa-Jackson ...
Rosette
David Crawford ...
Guards
Kathryn Day ...
A Maid
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Guards
Fabio Luisi ...
Himself - Conducted by
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
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Naive Manon is seduced by Chevalier Des Grieux and she runs away with him to avoid being sent to the convent. Gradually she learns to use her beauty to her advantage in the world of men. In opera, that usually spells bad news for the woman. Written by dnitzer

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7 April 2012 (USA)  »

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The Opera What I Wrote
7 February 2013 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

This is another of the Met's European imports. Laurent Pelly's production of Manon was seen at Covent Garden in 2010. Pelly has a way of making expensive productions look cheap. He uses an expressionist set, designed by Chantal Thomas, with miniature houses and distorted perspectives. It works in Act I, where, instead of the hustle and bustle of a courtyard in Amiens, we get an almost bare stage. The lack of visual distraction lets the audience concentrate on the interaction between Manon and Des Grieux. Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala really make this scene work as ingénue and ingénu.

Things start to get silly in Act II when Manon and Des Grieux appear to be living in a tree house in Paris. Act III is worse, reminding me of a Morcambe and Wise Christmas special. As Anna Netrebko is trailed by a crowd of lecherous men in top hat and tails all I could think of was Angela Rippon dancing with TV weathermen. Apologies to non-British readers who will have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.

The scene in a rather wonky Saint-Sulplice is more successful. Netrebko is a force of nature during the seduction. Beczala can only stare at her like a frightened rabbit. Her thrilling "N'est-ce plus ma main?" ends with her on his bed, lifting her skirts to show him what he is missing.

The final two acts of this opera are always the least plausible. Pelly's expressionist gambling salon and road to Le Havre do nothing to help us suspend our disbelief. Still, Netrebko and Beczala acquit themselves honourably. Netrebko's finest moment comes during her big number in the gambling scene when she has a jewellery malfunction. One earring suddenly drops off. Without missing a beat, she realises what has happened. She casually removes the other earring, waves it around her head and tosses it over her shoulder.


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