|Manon Lescaut||Ainhoa Arteta|
|Renato des Grieux||Gregory Kunde|
|A musician||Marifé Nogales|
|Geronte di Ravoir||Stefano Palatchi|
|Edmondo||Manuel de Diego|
|Il Maestro di Ballo||Eduardo Ituarte|
|Innkeeper and Navy Commander||Gexan Etxabe|
|Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi|
|Coro de Ópera de Bilbao|
|Music Director||Pedro Halffter*|
|Scene Director||Stephen Medcalf*|
|Director of the Chorus
|Production||Teatro Regio di Parma|
|*Debuting at ABAO-OLBE|
A dramma lirico in four acts, with an anonymous libretto (by Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica, with contributions by Marco Praga, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Giacomo Puccini, Giulio Ricordi and Giuseppe Adami) based on Histoire du chevalier Des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, in Mémoires et Aventures d’un homme de qualité qui s’est rétiré du monde, the novelized memoirs (1731/1753) of Antoine François Prévost, and a pièce that uses the title of the novel (1851) by Théodore Barrière and Marc Fournier, and with music by Giacomo Puccini
Manon Lescaut (soprano)
Chevalier Renato Des Grieux (tenor)
Geronte de Ravoir (basso brillante)
The innkeeper (bass)
A musician (mezzosoprano)
The dance master (tenor)
A lamplighter (tenor)
Sergeant of the Royal Archers (bass)
A naval captain (bass)
A hairdresser (silent role)
France and America, second half of the 18th century.
In Amiens, in a square in front of the Paris Gate.
Edmondo’s intoning a madrigal to youth and hope when the craftswomen, and then Des Grieux, arrive in the square. The students attempt to drag an amorous confession from him, but their comrade prefers to flirt with the girls. From a diligence that has just arrived emerge soldier Lescaut, his sister Manon and Treasurer General Geronte, to put up at the inn. The students can’t take their eyes off Monon; Des Grieux falls in love with her at first sight. When he questions her, Manon tells him she’ll be leaving the following morning to enter a convent, by her father’s wish. Des Grieux offers to free her from her fate; Manon brushes him off with irony, but promises to come back and see him at nightfall.
Lescaut confirms to Geronte that Manon has to enter a convent by her family’s decision, while the girls continue bantering with the students. The two travellers get acquainted with one another. While Geronte orders a carriage from the innkeeper, Lescaut joins in the game of cards. Edmondo detects that Geronte’s planning to whisk Manon off to Paris, and he tips off Des Grieux. The two students agree to scupper the Treasurer General’s plans.
Manon meets Des Grieux again; when he tells her she looks crestfallen, she admits she has something on her mind. Des Grieux tells Manon what Geronte’s planning to do. Edmondo’s already prepared their getaway, and Manon agrees to run away that very moment with Des Grieux.
Edmondo now tells Geronte, who in turn raises the alarm with Lescaut. But rather than going after his sister, he does a deal with Geronte: they wait till Manon grows tired of Des Grieux, then she and he join Geronte at his opulent Paris mansion.
In Paris, in a room in Geronte de Revoir’s house.
While Manon’s telling the hairdresser what style she wants, her brother enters, boasting that he rescued her from a poor student and moved her in with a rich civil servant. But Manon’s pining for Des Grieux and asks for news of him. Lescaut tells her that Des Grieux’s trying to improve his fortunes by betting on cards, and he’s doing well. Monon looks back wistfully on her days with Des Grieux, because she’s bored with Geronte.
Some musicians enter - Lescaut subjects them to a torrent of insults - to perform Geronte’s musical compositions. When Manon’s having her dance lesson, learning the minuet, her protector enters to praise her, but their guests hush him so that they can admire the young woman in silence. The gallants present - a few old beaux and abbés - imagine that they’re in a bucolic landscape where Tirso dances with his shepherdess. They go for a stroll on the boulevards.
While Manon’s getting ready to join them, Des Grieux appears. She says she’s sorry for leaving him and she still loves him, and him alone. Geronte springs himself on them, then appears to be letting them get away, but actually he’s going to summon the sergeant. Lescaut comes to warn them, but Manon stops to collect up some jewellery, and it’s too late. Lescaut arrests Des Grieux; the sergeant leads Manon away.
An instrumental interlude represents Des Grieux and Manon’s stay in prison, and their journey to Le Havre.
Meanwhile the composer advises the listener to read a meditation taken from Prévost’s novel.
In a square near the harbour in Le Havre, at daybreak.
Des Grieux and Lescaut are observing the soldiers’ prison where Manon’s being held. She’s been sentenced to deportation to a penal colony. Lescaut’s bribed a guard to free Manon, but the guard backs out at the last minute. A lamplighter passes, singing a ballad. Lescaut’s plan can’t be carried out, and the soldier urges the student to flee, but he refuses.
Hearing a gunshot, a crowd of people come up thinking several of the women sentenced to deportation must have escaped; but a picket of soldiers emerges, escorting them to the ship. Among them is Manon. The captain checks them on board one by one. The townsfolk jibe at the deportees, revealing their own prejudices. Lescaut tells the story of the student and his young beloved to arouse the townsfolk’s compassion, while Manon and Des Grieux say goodbye to one another. A sergeant shoves the pair apart, but Des Grieux stands his ground. The student persuades the captain to let him work his passage as a cabin boy. Manon and Des Grieux embark on the ship, which sets sail for the penal colony in the New World.
In a desert near New Orleans, at nightfall.
Manon, feverish and thirsty, makes her way across the plain accompanied by Des Grieux. He goes off in search of water. The young woman laments her harsh fate. By the time Des Grieux returns, Manon’s sinking fast. She dies in her lover’s arms. He slumps unconscious across her body.