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Few composers have teetered on the brink of success more tantalising than Puccini. At Covent Garden it has not been presented since the thirties , and then in a not very glamorous production.
The simple, but not necessarily the right answer to explain the comparative failure of an opera crammed fuller with Puccinian melody than any other, is that the libretto is a downright muddle. They could hardly avoid a similar first scene - the coup de foudre when Des Grieux meets Manon - but otherwise their main concern was not to duplicate scenes already set by Massenet. Between the first and second acts there is an enormous gap. We have last seen Manon escaping blissfully with the ardent Des Grieux.
- Manon Lescaut.
- Mon coeur mis à nu (2e partie des journaux intimes) (French Edition);
- The season, day by day.
- Puccini: Manon Lescaut (Italian & English text).
- Presenting and Representing Environments: 81 (GeoJournal Library).
- Auf 4 Pfoten durch die Tiroler Alpen (German Edition).
- Metropolitan Opera | Manon?
When the curtain rises again Manon has not merely left him and gone to her rich sugar-daddy but is growing tired of him, too. But far too much can be made of the inadequacies of the libretto. In the first place the dramatic coups which bring the curtain down on the first three acts are as brilliant as anything in later Puccini. And melody as well as melodrama is handled throughout the opera with at least as much cunning as you will find in better known Puccini. More travellers arrive, including Manon and her brother Lescaut.
Des Grieux is overwhelmed by her beauty and talks to her at the earliest opportunity. When Lescaut calls for his sister, Des Grieux insists on seeing her again.
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The young woman also caught the eye of a wealthy older gentleman, Geronte. Having heard about his beautiful sister's qualities from Lescaut, he decides to abduct her. Geronte makes arrangements while Lescaut is busy playing cards.
Edmondo realises what he's up to and warns his friend. Des Grieux and Manon meet again. He confesses his love. When she hears about the planned abduction, Manon eventually agrees to run away with Des Grieux. Edmondo, who fixed everything, informs Geronte that he's too late.
Lescaut assures outraged Geronte that Manon couldn't bear living with a penniless student for very long. Although spoiled by pretty clothes and admiration, her new lover's kisses taste pricy and cold. She tells her brother about her boredom and longing for Des Grieux.
Manon Lescaut, First Edition - AbeBooks
Lescaut knows he's turned into a gambler, to try and win Manon back with money. He decides to bring Des Grieux to Manon.
- More info on Manon Lescaut!
- From the archive, 27 November 1968: Manon Lescaut returns to Royal Opera House!
- Vocal score (Italian).
- Hot Scores (A Joe Oaks Novel Book 1).
After Manon has danced for Geronte and the guests, Des Grieux appears and reproaches her. Manon begs for forgiveness. They soon surrender to their mutual passion. Geronte surprises them and is mocked by Manon. Des Grieux wants to leave immediately, but Manon can't bear to leave wealth behind and starts packing. Geronte, meanwhile, has reported Manon.
Related Manon Lescaut (Italian Edition)
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