About us / Contact

The Classical Music Network


Europe : Paris, Londn, Zurich, Geneva, Strasbourg, Bruxelles, Gent
America : New York, San Francisco, Montreal                       WORLD

Your email :



Charleston style Manon

Grand Théâtre
03/01/2002 -  and 2, 6, 8, 10, 12 March 2002
Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Stephanie Friede (Monon), Miguel Olano (Des Grieux),Jean-Luc Chaignaud (Lescaut), Brian Bannatyne-Scott (Géronte)
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Louis Langrée (Conductor), Choir of the Grand Théâtre, Ching-Lien Wu (Choir Master).
Pierre Constant (Director)

Manon Lescaut is an innovative piece, because with it ends traditional melodrama. A new sort of opera was born. It was Puccini's first success, and through this success he was elevated to be the successor of Verdi.

Breaking, as usual, with traditional direction, Geneva has chosen a production that is a mixture of old and new genre; in its costumes as well as in its shift in time. We are in the beginning of the 20th century. On the dancing floor of a bar, a happy lot dances to a Charleston -which looks quite ridiculous but is announcing Manon's exile to the New World- that is out of rhythm with music and genre. Manon arrives on the dancing floor and remembers her childhood, when she use to dance with her sister. The second seen is not better, kitsch and mixture dominates: pathetic and ridiculous gestures of affection and love on a pink round sofa between Des Grieux and Manon, surrounded with several baskets of plastic flowers. She and her jealous husband, Géronte, are clad in baroque style, the rest (the choir and Des Grieux) in 20th century manner. But something saves the production, the set moves: the semi-circular walls that served as wooden panelling for the bar closes a bit more at each scene, to close up totally at the moment of Manon death. This gives intensity to the dramatic scene. What about the circular dance floor? It becomes, the round sofa, the balustrade of the dock -before Manon, charged for prostitution, is put on a boat to be sent into exile-, and finally the sand of the desert in America. To sum it all up, from the dance floor to sand (death) going through wealth and prison, the programme of a dramatic life.

The orchestra is very bright and the Puccinian voice of Stepanie Friede is very expressive. Olano quite good, and the Scottish bass Banntyne-Scott, is almost Wagnerian, but suits the role perfectly. The last to scenes have luckily saved the production that is far from convincing its first two.

Zoltan Bécsi



Copyright ©ConcertoNet.com