Sunday, May 21, 2006

Manon. Not Puccini's (sigh), but Massenet's version ain't half bad!

The performance in La Scala was really excellent. It wasn't easy for me to see the stage from the balcony, what with people ahead of me craning their necks right in my line of sight; but frankly, there wasn't a lot of action taking place onstage. So with each scene opening, I'd stand up and use my binocs to get the lay of the land, so to speak, then relax and concentrate on the music.

IT WAS GORGEOUS. Ion Marin (very handsome dude) conducted the orchestra, which balanced perfectly against the vocalists - who were brilliant. Massenet's music and orchestration is lush, melodic and dramatic.

The plot of Manon (the same Manon of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut") involves a self-centred, lying, deceptive little tart/twit whose motto is, as Sueann Ramella would put it, "ME! ME! ME!! IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!!!!!!"

How to sum it up? Act 1 is something like this:

Manon: I am so beautiful!!
Des Grieux: I think you are beautiful!
Manon: I am so beautiful!!
Des Grieux: You are not the sort of girl I should consort with, but...
Manon: I am so beautiful!!
Des Grieux: I think I am falling in love with you.
Manon: Hey! Are you listening to me? I am, like, so beautiful!!
Des Grieux: Oh damn you, I am going to get me to a monastery and take holy orders.
Manon: I am so beautiful!! Oh yes, I am too too beautiful!!

Well, just as he tries to become a priest, La Tart shows up with a change of heart.

Manon: I am so sorry, please don't wear those robes, they look so dowdy, and they won't look good when you walk beside me, because....remember....I AM SO BEAUTIFUL!!!
Des Grieux: Damn you woman, leave me alone!
Manon: no, really, you should accept my offer, because...I am still the same woman you fell in love with, and even though four years have passed and I am now an old hag at age 20...I AM STILL SO BEAUTIFUL!!!
Des Grieux: Damn you, woman, get thee behind.....oh what the hell, I give up. Let's go. I cannot resist you anymore, the end....YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!!

You just know it's going to end badly.

OK, so that's not exactly how it goes, but it's not a complete fabrication either! REALLY.

Tsk. Such a bad message for young girls.

All right, it's now almost 4AM (Milan time) and I am bleary-eyed after being up for nearly 22 hours. I've just recorded some audio updates for NWPR and posted them back to the studio, so barring any problems, they should be airing Monday onwards.

Yawn. We're off to Genoa tomorrow morning, I'd better get a bit of shuteye, then. Buona notte, amici!


Marie Glynn said...

O la mia carissima amica,

What a post! Loved your summary of Manon. You'll have to hear my stand-up version of the Odyssey sometime.

Sleep well, sleep often! Keep those blogs and audio posts a-comin'!


Sueann Ramella said...

Too much Manon. Not enough Me.