Monday, November 13, 2017

San Francisco Opera: Fall Season Continues to Delight — A New Production of ‘Manon’ by Massenet

Soprano Ellie Dehn and handsome tenor Michael Fabiano, make their role debuts as Manon and Chevalier des Grieux.

I attended ‘Manon’ on Friday night. The curtain rose at 7.30pm, and there were two long intermissions and a series of complex stage set changes. The vivid story, with complex motivations and emotions played out, is dramatically illustrated and performed. It’s engrossing and engaging.

The curtain fell at almost 11pm, and the audience rose in applause and countless bows, bouquets, and curtain theatrics. A wonderfully entertaining evening.

Opera stars Michael Fabiano and Ellie Dehn make a strong impression in complex and dramatic roles.

San Francisco Opera Presents a New Production of Massenet's ‘Manon’ through November 22

‘Manon’, which took place in Paris (fictionally) in the early 18th-century, and is presented in a new production by French director Vincent Boussard, is a co-production with Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Israeli Opera.

Boussard designed the costumes, which are witty and frisky and bold, with élan and verve.

I was especially impressed with creative lighting by Gary Marder, and set designer Vincent Lemaire’s use of a reflective effect that felt like a surreal commentary on the opera’s action and motivation.

French conductor and Massenet-specialist Patrick Fournillier lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. 

About ‘Manon’

Massenet’s romantic opera follows the ascent and fate of a beautiful young woman, her lover, his father, and her retinue of followers. It's set in timeless Paris, in locations like rue Vivienne and the Church of Saint-Sulpice and the Cours-la-Reine, which can be visited today.

Vincent Boussard’s theatrical interpretation of ‘Manon’, and the costumes, were proclaimed “a collaborative work of brilliance” by The Baltic Times at its 2016 Lithuanian premiere.

The production features sets designed by frequent Boussard collaborator Vincent Lemaire.

Boussard noted: 
“As a director, I try to create bridges between periods of time to make the story seem more immediate. I am led by the quality of the music and the singing. We’re trying to build bridges between the time of the story (the beginning of the 18th century) and the time of Massenet (1884) and today. I’m trying to give the character of Manon a chance to be imagined and received by the audience as if she could also be a lady of today.”

American tenor Michael Fabiano, who was recently praised by the New York Times for his “sensitive, vibrant lyric tenor,” adds the role of Chevalier des Grieux to his expanding repertory. Known for his portrayals of Italian roles such as Rodolfo in Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’ (memorable on the San Francisco Opera stage) and the title role of Verdi’s Don Carlo, Des Grieux will be his first French role with San Francisco Opera

Ellie Dehn last appeared before San Francisco Opera audiences last summer as Musetta in Puccini’s ‘La Bohème’. 

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The San Francisco Opera 2017 repertory season continues through December 10.

Still to come, the debut of John Adams’ new opera, Girls of the Golden West on November 21. 

In repertory, Turandot, a thrilling highlight of this year’s productions, brings the season to a close on Sunday, December 10.

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Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


San Francisco Opera Presents New Production of Massenet's ‘Manon’, through November 22, 2017.  Information, tickets and schedule:

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