[Met Performance] CID:97530

Manon Lescaut
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, December 10, 1927 Matinee

Manon Lescaut (59)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa/Marco Praga/Ruggero Leoncavallo
Frances Alda

Des Grieux
Beniamino Gigli

Antonio Scotti

Adamo Didur

Alfio Tedesco

Millo Picco

Solo Madrigalist
Merle Alcock

Dancing Master
Angelo Badà

Vincenzo Reschiglian

Giordano Paltrinieri

Paolo Ananian

Tullio Serafin

Samuel Thewman

Set Designer
Mario Sala

Set Designer
Joseph Novak

Costume Designer
Adolfo Hohenstein

Manon Lescaut received four performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Francis D. Perkins in the New York Tribune

'Manon Lescaut' Is Revived at Metropolitan

Alda, Gigli and Scotti Sing Leading Roles in Puccini Work; Serafin Conducts Creditable Performance


Opera Marked Turning Point in Composer's Career, After 'Edgar' Was Failure

Puccini's third opera, "Manon Lescaut," was performed yesterday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time in five years as the fourth item on Mr. Gatti-Casazza's list of novelties and revivals. Frances Alda who had sung the title role in both performances of the work in its last season at the Metropolitan, reappeared as Manon, with Mr. Gigli as Des Grieux and Mr. Scotti as Lescaut, the part he had sung in the Metropolitan premiere of the work in 1907. Tullio Serafin conducted.

"Manon Lescaut," which had its first performance at Turin in 1896, is junior by nine years to Massenet's probably better known opera on the same subject. It followed Puccini's unsuccessful opera, "Edgar" and, had it also failed, we might never have known "Bohème," "Tosca," "Butterfly" or 'Turandot."

Puccini Was Ready to Quit

Mr. Gatti-Casazza, we were told yesterday, had met Puccini before the premiere of "Manon Lescaut" and had been informed by the composer that should the new opera follow the example of 'Edgar" and fail, he would give up writing operas and devote himself to hunting. But "Manon Lescaut" proved successful, and thus eased the problem which Mr. Gatti-Casazza was to face here in the selection of an Italian repertoire - suppose that there had been no "Bohème," "Tosca" or "Butterfly"!

A traveling Italian company gave "Manon Lescaut" here in 1898, but, according to Mr. Krehbiel, the performance was inadequate. For a major league New York performance the work waited until January 18, 1907 when it was sung with Lina Cavalieri as Manon, Mr. Caruso as des Grieux, and Arturo Vigna conducting. Puccini was present.

Caruso Sang in "Manon"

It remained in the repertoire the next season, Conried's last, and then was not performed until the [first] night of the 1912-13 season, with Miss Bori, Mr. Caruso and Mr. Scotti. Giorgio Polacco conducted. Thus began a long stay in the repertoire, up through the fall of 1922, when Edward Johnson and Mr. Gigli appeared in the leading tenor role and Genaro Papi conducted.

Reheard after five year's lapse, "Manon Lescaut" has pleasing features. The music shows its authorship, while it is less characteristic than its three successors, assuming that these three better known works typify the music of Puccini at his prime. It gives a simpler, more unsophisticated impression; it had less color and pungency, and its flavor is of predecessors in Italian opera as well as of the later Puccini.

But it is homogeneous, fluent and melodious, graceful in lighter moments and, as a rule, does not fail the emotional demands of the libretto. While tuneful, the music of "Manon Lescaut" is less readily memorable than that of "La Bohème," for instance, but it has a pronounced asset in a certain freshness and spontaneity. The libretto, in which Puccini himself is said to have had a hand, usually serves its purpose, though the last scene brings a falling-off of interest with not particularly striking music.

Mme. Alda, while not ideally suited to the part, played it with intelligence and dramatic effectiveness, and provided some very good, well produced singing - but also passages lacking fullness and roundness of tone. Among the major parts, vocal honors went to Mr. Gigli, who was in excellent form, singing with emotional warmth and doing his best dramatically, with prolonged and general plaudits to follow. Mr. Scotti played Lescaut animatedly and sang more smoothly than on the some other occasions.

Mr. Didur provided a commendable Geronte, and Mr. Bada did adequate work as the ballet master. Merle Alcock, as the musician, sang her one solo well, while Messrs. Tedesco, Bada, Picco, Reschiglian, Paltrinieri and Ananian completed the cast, and Mr. Sarafin kept the orchestral part - originally heavily scored, but then revised and thinned - within due bounds.

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