[Met Performance] CID:186010

Manon Lescaut
Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, October 25, 1960

Debut : Meredith Parsons (1), Patrick Tavernia

Manon Lescaut (94)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa/Marco Praga/Ruggero Leoncavallo
Dorothy Kirsten

Des Grieux
Carlo Bergonzi

Mario Sereni

Ezio Flagello

Giulio Gari

Lawrence Davidson

Solo Madrigalist
Joan Wall

Mary Fercana

Meredith Parsons (1) [Debut]

Dina De Salvo

Alexandra Jones

Dancing Master
Alessio De Paolis

Calvin Marsh

Robert Nagy

Louis Sgarro

Fausto Cleva

Herbert Graf

H. M. Krehan-Crayon

Stage Director
Patrick Tavernia [Debut]

Manon Lescaut received ten performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Jay S. Harrison in the Herald Tribune

Dorothy Kirsten in 'Manon' at the Met

Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," which last night occupied the Metropolitan's attention, is an opera that does not everywhere sail on its own accord. It needs a push, a shove to get it going; it needs a strong and fresh breeze to keep it off the ground. And the performance in question, unfortunately, had very little of the animation and lyric passion necessary to keep it moving in other than a desultory and lackluster manner.

Not that the singing was outrageous or even bad, for that matter. It was simply uninspired and matter of fact. Miss Kirsten, in the title role, quite wanted in intensity, and while some phrases were roundly turned and pleasantly colored, there was no real distinction or mettle to her work.

As an indication of the chill that pervaded her interpretation, one might cite that moment in the second act where Des Grieux enters Manon's suite to reclaim her after their long separation (a condition caused by her leaving the tenor for a wealthier man). "Tu, tu, amore!" she is supposed to cry, almost in an ecstasy of rejoicing. But Miss Kirsten treated Des Grieux's arrival rather as though he had merely been away for a few minutes to fetch some sandwiches from the corner store. It was altogether a pale and non-dynamic exploration of female sentiment.

As for Mr. Bergonzi, he has provided, on other occasions, singing of far greater beauty, especially in so far as his bel canto skills are concerned and, though he, too, had his moments of vigor and warmth, the bulk of his work was shallow and superficial. This was especially true of his dramatic impersonation, which was never focused and thus lacked direction. Indeed, he performed the part as if it were a casual collection of arias and duets without much connection or theatrical meaning. And, further, the top of his range, on which Puccini puts considerable stress, did not have the high glow it is known to possess.

Among the other characters, the best singing was supplied by Mario Sereni, whose performance in the second act was an exceptional demonstration of lirico-baritone vocalism at its most luxurious and affecting. As Geronte, Ezio Flagello was adequate but hardly memorable, and Giulio Gari's Edmundo offered but the slightest rewards.

However, Fausto Cleva, in the pit, reminded one again - if a reminder is needed - that he is among the most reliable of opera conductors, and, in fact, his gift of following the singers even to the point of intuiting their retards and rubati was an object lesson in the resources available to a maestro concerned with more than simply beating time. For that matter, what spark and flame there was to the whole "Manon" venture derived almost entirely from his presence.

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