[Met Performance] CID:263900

Manon Lescaut
Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, March 16, 1981

Manon Lescaut (147)
Giacomo Puccini | Luigi Illica/Giuseppe Giacosa/Marco Praga/Ruggero Leoncavallo
Teresa Zylis-Gara

Des Grieux
Giuliano Ciannella

Pablo Elvira

Renato Capecchi

Philip Creech

Mario Bertolino

Solo Madrigalist
Isola Jones

Suzanne Der Derian

Susan Ball

Joyce Olson

Judit Schichtanz

Dancing Master
Andrea Velis

Richard Vernon

Dana Talley

Russell Christopher

James Levine

Gian Carlo Menotti

Desmond Heeley

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Stage Director
Paul Mills

Manon Lescaut received sixteen performances this season.

Review 1:

Review of Bill Zakarisen in the Daily News

'Manon' a bit o' manna for Met

The Gian Carlo Menotti-Desmond Heeley production of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" was one of the few unqualified Metropolitan Opera triumphs last year, and thus in this noticeably barren season, its return to the house on Monday was especially welcome. The able cast was the same as last year's except for the two leads - Teresa Zylis-Gara as Manon and Giuliano Ciannella as the Chevalier des Grieux.

The relatively uncelebrated Ciannella won his spurs Monday. He had been heard here only in the subordinate lyric role of Cassio the last time "Otello" came around, and the fact he was replacing "tenore robusto" Giuseppe Giacomini gave some a cause for wailing again about the Met's lightweight casting these days.

We didn't need to worry. Ciannella proved his voice was more than up to the spirito demands of the role. The dark, burnished tone in his middle register and the brilliant freedom on top often reminded the ear of Placido Domingo, phrasing like that fine singer with grand line and poignancy as the score demands. Like Domingo, he has a slight tendency to sharp as he goes up the scale, but at least it showed that this was a No. 2 who tried harder.

Cianella's visual performance was equally impressive. He is trimly youthful in appearance, and his movements had just enough physical awkwardness to keep us aware that des Grieux was an impressionable student. The shyness, the occasional petulance, the tenderness and passion that go with the role were all there in balance and abundance. He would have come off even better had conductor James Levine. not rushed some of his big moments (cf. "Donna non vidi mai"), but it was decisively clear that in Giuliano Ciannella the Met has a new star tenor to be reckoned with.

Zylis-Gara's creamy soprano was a joy to hear in Manon's music. She negotiated it all with wonderfully arched (yet never arch) phrasing and ravishingly pointed dynamics. Insinuation in the Italian style is not her forte and more than once in Act II it appeared we were at the Marschallin's levee instead of a courtesan's boudoir, but the glorious generosity of her vocalism was something we haven't been used to in this role for many a season.

Pablo Elvira was once again a firmly vocalized, wheeler-dealing Lescaut and Renato Capecchi an unctuously sinister Geronte, but Philip Creech's tenor, admired for its freshness as Edmondo last year, seems to have turned grainy. It must also be said that he really should make an effort to look like his fellow students in Act I - a proper wig would take care of much of this problem.

Levine's conducting, after a pressure-cooking first half, had the proper pliancy later on, and the orchestra sounded fine. But since the last two acts together are shorter than Act II, he might take a cue from the New York City Opera production of "Manon Lescaut," in which the two scenes are played together, with the Intermezzo placed between them at no loss of proper key relationships.

This revision might have considerably cut down the mad rush of the audience to the suburbs as Manon was expiring in the desert of Louisiana.

Search by season: 1980-81

Search by title: Manon Lescaut,

Met careers