Vocally and visually, the Monaco performance of the famous Massenet opera Manon has been a success. When one goes to the opera in Monaco, one always expects the best. And we have never been disappointed. This was the case yet again with the performance of Manon which has been on since last Friday. The voices are magnificent and the staging of the utmost aesthetic quality. As for the music of Massenet, it flows like spring water from the orchestra pit, bubbling beneath the baton of the leader Alain Guingal as though beneath a divining rod. It is truly a treat for our senses.
The role of Manon was to be played by the newest star on the international scene, Sonya Yoncheva. Unfortunately, due to being unwell, she was replaced by Anne-Catherine Gillet. Though we don’t know how Yoncheva would have been in the role, her replacement embodies an exquisite Manon, displaying great finesse and musicality. At her side is the excellent tenor Jean François Borras. Borras was known to us as a student and had his debut in Monaco. The touching memories of Borras as a young singer in the Cathedral of Monaco are now over! Now Borras is among the great. Monaco as a scene ranks among the Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées or the Opera of Vienna.
The rest of the cast also deserves many accolades for their work, especially the men’s quartet Lionel Lhote, Marc Barrard, Rodolphe Briand and Pierre Doyen.
The choir was ablaze with its voices as well as its costumes. What a richness of costumes in this staging of Manon! There was no skimping on the quantity or quality of the fabrics. And not to mention the wigs! Everything is of a complete and total beauty. Here, there is no hard-edged or punk-style take on Manon, as can sometimes be seen elsewhere on stages wishing to modernise the story.
Here we have Manon, done the right way. It feels good to see it. The director is Arnaud Bernard, not to be confused with Bernard Arnault, who, on the contrary, is obsessed with the contemporary. Our Arnaud Bernard offers a flamboyantly classic version, as he paints scene after rapturous scene. For a moment, Manon arrives in a hot air balloon, and it is pure ecstasy for the audience!
Upon leaving the theatre and stepping out into the sharp cold and darkness on Friday after the premiere, at the foot of the stairs it was possible to cross paths with the Princes descending from the Salle Garnier, the beautiful white bust of Massenet perched at the top of his column. There was no doubt that the echoes of Manon had reached him. He looked pleased.
Further information about upcoming performances: Wednesday and Friday at 20:00. Tickets are already sold out.
It’s clear that the Monaco opera staging of Manon by Massenet is a grand success so far, and it will be sure to delight the next wave of theatre goers this week.
Photos from Monte-Carlo Opera website.