mercredi, novembre 16, 2005

Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini

I heard/saw last night and EXCELLENT performance of the opera Manon Lescaut. It was so phenomenally good actually I was so pleasantly surprised.. When I was a child we would go to the opera and sometimes I would be bored and sometimes I would be entranced.. it really depended on the opera and the opera company.. I wish I could take my father to hear an opera performance when he comes to visit, but I don't know when he will next come to visit. sEriously though.. he would love to hear opera performed live here. It's much better than what we had back at home. When we were little my parents took our whole family to the opera and we would listen and just breathe in the gorgeous music. It was amazingly wonderful.. the performance brought me to tears actualyl.. it felt so good to hear the music performed well.. there's soemthing about how music really touches the soul.. My "aunt" Rachel says I am a sensitive person, tehre's some book about sensitive people, she was reading it to see if my "cousin" Miriam was a sensitive child, since she is sensitive to sounds, but when she was done reading it Rachel emailed me and said, I don't think Miriam is sensitive like this book says anymore, but I do think *you* are. It made me laugh at how cute and funny that was. I have yet to read the book though I hope to at some point, because I am very curious to know what this type of person is. Anyway, I believe it probably connects to the way I experience opera. I efel it deep in my soul. The storylines are never greatly developed, but it is the music and the staging which make opera so incredible.. the pathos of the music.. there is soemthing about those sounds done just so which strike my ehartstrings and brings me to soar in glee and crash in sorrow with the opera as it unfolds before my eyes. It is so beautiful.

The only thing that bothered me was the bad step that they gave the male singers.. to prance forward and back.. it was badly done. The sets were gorgeous. Manon's acting and signing were stupendous. Des Grieux's singin was fantastic. Lescaut was obviously a lesser qulatiy voice which was troubling. Geronte also had a beautiful voice, but sadly it was unremarkable when placed next to Manon and Des Grieux.

this whole production was about gorgeous mouth-watering presentation and stunningly vivid juxtapositions. It was very decadent and brimmed full of passion in the entire act 2.. which I think was really Puccini's masterpiece. I've never seen a more compelling act or heard a more heart-wrenching and beautiful series of duets.

I really loved this ending scene in Act 2 where Manon brings to Geronte the mirror and says look at yourself and then look at us... she is juxtaposing the lovers vs. the lecherous old man (there seems to always be a tragic woman who dies and a lecherous old man in these great stories), what was astoundingly played was the fact that when Geronte has her arrested, he brings her tattered belongings before her and then shows her the same mirror and that final positioning .. physically is so striking.. it compels one to see the juxtaposition and to recall the actions that were mirrored.. likewise there is this lovely bit of music in the first act when desGrieux falls in love with Manon and wants her to run away with him. It is mirrored in words, language and even a hint of the musical theme when she is in prison and he is hoping to have her break out of the jail.. the juxtaposition of her life before versus her life in the jail... he tries to free her from both previous scenarios.. in one case doomed to the convent, loveless, and poor, young and lovely... and in the other case, imprisoned, separated from her love, trodden by time more now, and about to be exiled... He is proof that "Omnia Amor vincet" is not true as the nun in _The Canterbury tales_ would have us believe... Love does not conquer all. Apparently, Puccini felt it was a worthwhile tale to tell of how love cannot conquer a woman's folly, a man's jealousy, human greed, nor a man's lust... or is that really his theme.. perhaps not. Perhaps really Puccini was trying to tell us how miserable life, even with the noblest of emotions, cannot be unsullied and ideal in this world. this amazingly deep love that des Grieux feels for Manon drives him and her on this terrible downwards path.. had Manon never met des Grieux and instead been abducted into a life of luxury with Geronte she could still have borne it well and fared decently.. but once one has tasted that beautiful thing of a real love.. precious, delicious, and amazingly powerful --kind of like one of the richest creamiest of custard.. ah, the perfect creme brulee for example... so soft, so transient, so delectable, one wants to keep it forever but even the moment it is on the tongue it is vanishing before one can capture it and commit it to memory. (Can you tell I like a gourmet creme brulee? heh.) Anyway.. I am not yet sure I have a handle on what was fantastic about this opera theme wise, but I have to tell you my artistic palate's epicurean desires were so well soothed last night I am eager to hear Der Rosenkavalier in February... and tempted sorely to take off to hear Cosi fan tutte or die fledermaus in january ... though I haven't a clue who i would go with if i went in january.

Apparently, Jacob doesn't think that a gorgeous opera is worth the travel... sigh. The unappreciative!