Manon Lescaut

Deutsche Oper Berlin's 2008-2009 Season

September 13 2008- July 2 2009: Turandot
September 14 2008- March 22 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
September 15-27 2008: Rigoletto
September 20 2008: L'Amico Fritz
September 21 2008- May 2 2009: Die Zauberflöte
September 30- October 8 2008: Pique Dame
October 1-5 2008: The Nose
October 2-7 2008: Chowanschtschina
October 3 2008 - February 15 2009: Der Rosenkavalier
October 22-31 2008: Manon Lescaut
October 30- November 6 2008: Lohengrin
November 20 2008- May 8 2009: La Traviata
November 28 2008- April 12 2009: Aida
November 30 2008- May 31 2009: Tannhäuser
December 8 2008- February 12 2009: Daphne
December 13 2008- March 11 2009: Lucia di Lammermoor
December 14-28 2008: Hänsel und Gretel
December 17 2008- January 9 2009: Cunning Little Vixen
December 18 2008- January 4 2009: La Bohème
January 7- June 24 2009: Tosca
January 18- February 14 2009: Die Ägyptische Helena
January 25- February 10 2009: Salome
January 28- February 13 2009: Cassandra / Elektra
February 8-27 2009: Ariadne auf Naxos
March 8- July 3 2009: Carmen
March 13- April 25 2009: Un Ballo in Maschera
March 26- April 4 2009:
Andrea Chenier
April 9-24 2009: Marie Victoire
April 30- May 9 2009: Eugene Onegin
May 20- June 2 2009: La Cenerentola
May 26- June 18 2009: Der Freischütz
May 27- June 6 2009: Madama Butterfly
June 10-21 2009: Tristan und Isolde
June 17-25 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro
June 26- July 4 2009: Tiefland

Valery Gergiev conducts Pique Dame, The Nose, Chowanschtschina. Bo Skovhus sings the title role of Eugene Onegin. Roberto Alagna sings Fritz in L'Amico Fritz, with Angela Gheorghiu as Suzel. Gheorghiu returns in May for La Traviata, and in June for Tosca. Angelika Kirchschlager sings the title role of Carmen and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. Nancy Gustafson sings the Feldmarschallin in the latter, but only in December. Mariusz Kwiecien sings in the March performances of Lucia, opposite of Burcu Uyar and Elena Mosuc, who share the title role with Ruth Ann Swenson.

2008-2009 Schedule | Official Site


Sola, Perduta, Abbandonata

317122794_108c318eba* Notes *
The last opera of the year at San Francisco Opera will be Manon Lescaut this Sunday. Overall, this production was the best of the seven, because the cast is strong and the set design is neither distracting nor nonsensical. It is interesting to note that Carmen sold out for the last three performances, and the singers sharing the title role are both newcomers. Manon Lescaut was not completely full yesterday, nor is the final performance sold out, despite Karita Mattila. Perhaps this opera is too obscure, when I've mentioned it in passing, many people have not known of it, nor of Abbé Prévost's book.

I am quite curious to hear Karita Mattila sing in Wagner, I have only heard her sing music that I am not particularly interested in, Puccini this time and Janáček a few seasons ago. Her voice has such beauty and intensity. This time around I noticed that tenor Misha Didyk has a lot of vibrato, but not so much to ruin his intonation. He also sounds better when warm, his Act I performance is certainly not as good as in the others.

* Tattling *
Someone came to the stage when the curtain was supposed to rise, and he assured us that Karita was fine, but some orchestra members were stuck in Bay Bridge traffic. Subsequently, the curtain time was pushed back 20 minutes.

Because of the late start, there were no latecomers in the boxes. However, some girls decided to come into Box X toward the end of the intermezzo between Acts II and III. I was sitting at the back of the box as to not crowd anyone, and one of the girls sat directly in front of me and perched on the chair so that all I could see was the back of her head. To add injury to insult, the girls whispered throughout Act III, though they did leave after the act was finished.


Opening of Manon Lescaut

Manon* Notes *
Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Manon Lescaut opened with a matinee performance yesterday. The production, designed by Frank Philipp Schlössmann, was completely traditional, rather unlike the 2004 Der Fliegende Holländer, which was the last Lyric production to come here.

This production, taken as a whole, has been my favorite thus far this season, and I cannot say it is because of Puccini's music, which I do not find particularly lyrical. Puccini's third opera is chock-full of different musical ideas, features a bizarrely disjointed plot, but somehow it came together beautifully. Donald Runnicles conducted well and with great sensitivity, he will be sorely missed when his tenure ends in 2009. Karita Mattila's voice was ravishing in the title role, so sweet and girlish at the beginning and filled with desperation at the end. Tenor Misha Didyk also sang well as Des Grieux, passionately and with enough volume and control. However, his diction was not always clear. John Hancock (Lescaut) and Eric Halfvarson (Geronte) both seemed competent, both vocally and dramatically.

The most obvious flaw in the production was the minuet, the music was there, but the dance seemed to consist of Mattila making curtsies as everyone else sits in a circle around her. Mattila looked awkward in the whole of Act II, she holds her head a bit too forward and her movements seemed somewhat erratic. Manon is supposed to be bored, but the fidgeting was excessive.

* Tattling *
Stanford professor Giancarlo Aquilanti gave a somewhat maniacal talk before the performance, declaring that Puccini was politically incorrect and that Des Grieux was a loser. Definitely worth hearing, Aquilanti certainly wasn't dull. He talked over most of his musical examples and seemed entirely smitten with Puccini.

The opera house looked completely full, and there were no latecomers of note, people were much more well-behaved than usual. The only annoyance of the performance were a couple who got up in-between Acts III and IV to stretch their legs, even though there was no intermission at this point. This should have been clear from the program and from the fact that Runnicles was still in the pit, baton aloft. Unfortunately, they didn't return to their seats before the music began again, and the ushers did not allow them to sit. Thus, we in standing room were left to hear them complain aloud during the music.


Manon Lescaut Panel Discussion

Insightmanon* Notes *
Despite having a subscription to San Francisco Opera for 3 seasons, I only managed to attend my first
Opera Insight Panel Discussion yesterday. The hour-long panel discussion on Puccini's third opera was moderated by music director Donald Runnicles and included soprano Karita Mattila, bass Eric Halfvarson, baritone John Hancock, and the stage director Olivier Tambosi.

Much was made of the fragmentation as far as plot goes in regards to Puccini's libretto. Apparently at least seven people worked on it, which seems rather excessive, no? Also, a rather lot of comparisons were made between Puccini's work and Massanet's, and both were compared to the source text by Abbé Prévost.

The production of Manon Lescaut from Lyric Opera of Chicago opens this Sunday at 2pm and it shows 6 more times until December 10th.

* Tattling *
This last opera panel discussion of the year did not seem particularly well-attended, but everyone was rather well-behaved. There was a bit of hilarity regarding Wagner, when Tambosi suggested he was a mountain to get around or through or to subsume.

A few words of German also reared their heads, der Anlauf (from Tambosi) and das Fach (from Mattila).


Budapest and Vienna

We went to the Hungarian State Opera twice to see La Bohème and Manon Lescaut. They were having a Puccini Festival, so now I've seen more Puccini than anything else as far as opera goes. The opera house is so gorgeous, inside and out, though I've only been on the inside of five opera houses. The Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth is the most fancy I've seen and the Wiener Volksoper the least.

In Vienna we went to see Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio at the Volksoper, and the difference between Puccini and Mozart was marked. Mozart is just incredible, even difference between his stereotype of "oriental" music and Saint-Saëns's shows this. The romantics just don't compare, not even to me, a person who really doesn't have much musical sense one way or other. I'm visual to a fault. The set and costumes were not to my taste, the set consisted of a modern glass palace that spun around, and the costumes were retro 40's. However, the singing was marvelous and so was the acting.