In 2012, I was lucky enough to receive a ticket to a dress rehearsal performance of Jules Massenet’s Manon at the Metropolitan Opera. It was the second production I saw there, the first being Carmen in 2010. I find it ironic that both of the pieces I’ve seen live at the Met were French opera-comiques. Anyway, as you may know, the Met is in Lincoln Center, NYC, and not easily accessible by express bus from where I live. At this point in time, my mom was also not comfortable with me going up to Lincoln Center alone because of that.
Long story short- I had two escorts up to the opera, another student from my school (Calvin) and Ms. Rachel (my English professor). Calvin and I met Ms. Rachel in downtown Manhattan, and all three of us took the subway to Lincoln Center. Let me tell you, that place is gorgeous. From the sculptured majesty of the opera house to the grand stairs outside to the sparkling fountain, it is truly a wonderland for the arts.
We saw Russian soprano superstar Anna Netrebko in the lead role, and because we were attending a dress rehearsal, we received a printed sheet of information in lieu of a Playbill. Interestingly, the role of Lescaut was sung by Paulo Szot, who I’d seen at Lincoln Center four years earlier for his Tony Award-winning performance in South Pacific. A real full circle moment, if you will. Anyway, the opera was in five acts, but the time did not drag on. It was a really enjoyable work, albeit with some really unfortunate moments for the hero and heroine. But what else would you expect in a tragic opera-comique? Fun fact, too: Manon is one of those Violetta Valery/Figaro’s Countess roles that every great soprano seems to have played in her career. She’s been portrayed by the likes of Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Natalie Dessay, and Ileana Cotrubas. Now that’s quite a gamut!
Have you ever seen an opera at the Met? Maybe more than one? Share your experiences.