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Ensemble

A Great Credit

Massenet's 'Manon' at LA Opera,
appreciated by MARIA NOCKIN

 

This year's production of Massenet's Manon at Los Angeles Opera is the first opera Vincent Paterson has directed, but it is obvious that he has done a great deal of homework. Best known for his work with pop stars Madonna and Michael Jackson, he also choreographed this company's production of Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and worked with soprano Anna Netrebko on her aria DVD, The Woman, The Voice. His Manon shows that he is more than capable of working in opera as well as in the popular media.

Anna Netrebko in the first scene of Act I of 'Manon'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Anna Netrebko in the first scene of Act I of 'Manon'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

In his updated version, Manon is a charmingly sophisticated 'material girl'. During the overture she arrives in a wooden seated railway compartment, but when she removes her heavy socks and pencils socking-seam lines on her legs, you realize she never again intends to travel third class. She never grabs her crotch, but in Act II she does invite Des Grieux to read a letter placed in a titillating position.

Cours de la Reine in Act 2 scene 1 of 'Manon'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard
Cours de la Reine in Act 2 scene 1 of 'Manon'. Photo © 2006 Robert Millard

Patterson has placed the story in the Paris of the early fifties. At the beginning, in the railway station café, elements of the post World War II era are fully visible. Later, we see the night life and the degradation of prison in that time. Johannes Leiacker's scenery functioned well and evoked the spirit of each place mentioned in the story.

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Copyright © 15 October 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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