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Manon Lescaut (Puccini) - Wikipedia
Puccini: Manon Lescaut. Add download to basket. In stock Usually despatched within 1 working day. View full details Read reviews Listen to samples. I ask because a week spent at the seedier end of the romance spectrum has left me feeling profoundly unsatisfied.
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There was disquiet, revulsion, confusion and a certain amount of modish awkwardness, but the itchy urgency of it all was absent — the emotional ignition without which neither Manon Lescaut nor The Diary of One Who Disappeared can find their flame. There are rougher edges to both an opera and a heroine that are still under construction, works in progress. Love, too, is in doubt. Is nothing real in this polyester and dipped-pearl fantasy?
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Probably not. There are similar tensions in the performance of the music here. The composer, fired up with feelings for the married, much-younger Kamila Stosslova, bombarded her with letters and music, including the cycle, whose seductive gipsy-girl Zefka lures young Janicek away from his respectable family to live with her on the margins. The piece is an odd one.
Scored for tenor and piano, it also demands a mezzo-soprano and three further female voices, heard at a distance. Urban ennui replaces bucolic desire in the memory-play the director has crafted in and around the work. Though appealing in themselves, these episodes are just one of several complicating new elements — an elderly double for Janicek Father?
Older self? Ed Lyon makes an ardent lover, oaky and textured in tone right up to the bright top of the voice. Marie Hamard is cooler, more inscrutable musically, her mezzo occasionally ringing a little shallow. Figaro enters with staff and peasants. They offer a chorus of thanks to the Count for renouncing the abhorrent droit du seigneur with a clever reminder that Figaro and Susanna are the first wedded couple to benefit from the repeal.
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Susanna and Figaro make a further entreaty — Cherubino must be pardoned for his amorous indiscretions so he may join the wedding festivities. But the Count does more than that, offering the young man an honorable position in his regiment. His departure will be immediate.
Figaro bids a comic farewell, detailing the great glories Cherubino is about to face. At the same time, Susanna is to let the Count know she is willing to submit to his wishes in the garden.
But when the Count arrives, he will find in her place Cherubino disguised as a woman. Figaro departs, and Cherubino arrives moments later.
The Story of the Chevalier des Grieux and of Manon Lescaut
As a parting gesture, Susanna instructs him to sing a song he wrote in honor of the Countess. While sizing him up for the charade to be performed that evening, the Countess notices his commission, hastily unsealed. Once allowed entry, the Count is immediately suspicious — the door was locked it almost never is , and he heard voices.
He shows his wife the letter, but the confrontation is interrupted by a loud noise coming from the closet. The Count leaves to get some tools and takes the Countess with him, locking all the doors so no one can escape. Having quietly slipped into the room, Susanna has secretly observed the entire situation. The Count and Countess return — she now prepares her husband for what he might find inside and begs for his understanding, but when Susanna emerges instead of Cherubino, both are dumfounded.
Figaro arrives presently, and once the issue of the letter is settled merely a joke to tease the Count , he announces the hour has arrived for the wedding ceremony.
The Count tarries — Marcellina is due to arrive any minute to present her claim. Instead, Antonio the gardener comes in, fussing over flowers damaged by a falling man. Antonio produces a document dropped by the escapee; the Count grabs it and demands Figaro to tell him what it is.
Figaro suddenly remembers and adds that he was bringing it to the Count because it lacked the official seal.