Manon by Massanet

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Liceu Opera Orchestra & Choir
Marc Minkowski, conductor
Olivier Py, stage director

Nadine Sierra, Manon Lescaut
Javier Camarena, Chevalier des Grieux


Manon by J. Massanet

Manon is a complex character, torn between the two. She avoids being sent to a convent and embarks on a life of lasciviousness and wrongdoing. Her personal leap into the void is her passionate but self-destructive love affair with Des Grieux, a brief but delightful parenthesis which comes to a tragic end.

The opera Massenet drew from Prévost’s novel was premiered at the Opéra-Comique in 1884. Touched by the entrancingly spontaneous music, the audience were able to overlook the protagonists’ amoral and tortuous existence. Manon, who yearns above all for luxury and comfort, lapses into betrayal and prostitution and is sentenced to be deported to Louisiana. Her death in the arms of the powerless and remorseful Des Grieux carries a sobering message. From a misogynistic viewpoint, Manon’s strength and ability to embody wrongdoing and moral ruin have made her a literary myth on a par with the likes of Cleopatra, Eve, Salome, Carmen or Lulu.

The leading couple are played by Javier Camarena, as the ingenuous Des Grieux, and Nadine Sierra, as the sparkling Manon. With Marc Minkowski on the podium, they make up a brilliant trio which revives this paradigm of French opera based on a provocative tale of loose morals about two adolescents with a thirst for life who face a dilemma and ultimately a tragic end.