Connect with us

News

REVIEW: English Touring Opera presents Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Fascinating to watch, great to listen to

Published

on

This production of Puccini’s early opera Manon Lescaut is spectacular. The music is uplifting, the singing is powerful, the performances are impressive. Jenny Stafford as Manon goes from a modest and bashful young girl to a woman wearied of the world. The staging is imaginative.

At first glance, the interpretation is bizarre. It’s such a mixture it’s like serving shepherd’s pie with custard, but on reflection it makes sense.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

Advertisements
Pictures

The opera, first performed in 1893 was inspired by the 1731 novel of The Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut, by Antoine Francois Prevost.

Advertisements
Sellebrity Soccer

The original story, set in Paris, focuses on des Grieux’s love for Manon a girl with few choices who ends up as a prostitute. Prevost’s book centres on the unhappiness of des Grieux but Puccini’s opera tells the tale from Manon’s perspective. He said she was certain to capture audiences’ hearts.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

In this production, sung in English in a modern setting, directed by Jude Christian, the extravagantly colourful costumes give a contrasting carnival atmosphere to a sad story.

Manon has a body clinging, ruched party dress and a blue wig.

The chorus is dressed for fun, a chic red dress with a matching berry, a bright yellow fluffy jacket, chimney hats on the men in bright red and bright green, an eighteenth-century courtier with a grey wig.

And strangest of all, des Guieux’s wealthy rival for Manon’s affections, Geronte, played and sung expertly by Edward Hawkins, is dressed as a fop in a pale pink suit with an enormous, matching wide brimmed hat like a woman off to the races at Ascot.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

Advertisements
canopyuk.com in-article

The show opens with a young woman having the entire contents of a water-cooler flagon emptied over her head, apparently to her delight. The opening set has the stage ringed with water coolers and this is a motif throughout.

It seems bonkers until you realise this is a symbol for Manon’s tragic death. At the end of the show, she dies of thirst.

When we meet Manon, (sung stupendously by Jenny Stafford) she is a young woman about to be sent against her will by her father to a convent.

At this point she meets des Grieux (masterfully sung by Gareth Dafydd Morris), and they instantly fall in love. He is penniless so Manon decides to become the mistress of someone who is better able to provide for her.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

Next we see her reconciled to a life of trivial luxury, (symbolised by her fixation on her hair and her nails). As for the blue wig, when asked: “How’s my hair? her brother (again, well played and sung by Aidan Edwards) replies resignedly: It’s a choice.” Des Grieux finds her, and they decide to run away together.

He wants to leave immediately but she stays behind to steal some of the rich man’s wealth, saying cynically she has earned it. She is caught and sent to prison.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

She escapes when her brother and des Grieux rescue her. The lovers go on the run, but only for her to die of thirst in his arms.

Fascinating to watch, great to listen to, English Touring Opera presents Manon Lescaut at Cambridge Arts Theatre again on Friday, May 3 and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4.

 

Facebook

Read More

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and (centre) with Cllr Anna Smith, deputy mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority at the opening of Chatteris museum. Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and (centre) with Cllr Anna Smith, deputy mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority at the opening of Chatteris museum.
News3 hours ago

Cambridgeshire bus revolution is just what the doctor ordered

His ‘mayor’s fare’ is among a raft of new routes and bus service improvements

The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events The Cambridge Graduate Hotel held a lavish party for over 200 people on Thursday night to launch its summer season of events
News4 hours ago

Graduate Hotel ‘so very Cambridge’ where if you’re lucky you can buy a giraffe!

The hotel began as The Belle Vue Private Hotel and was renamed The Garden House in 1926

Peterborough First celebrate after the recent city council election PHOTO: Terry Harris Peterborough First celebrate after the recent city council election PHOTO: Terry Harris
News2 days ago

OPINION: Peterborough City Council ‘in a better place than it was and ready to progress’

Crowds to flock to Nene Park on Saturday and Sunday for Peterborough Celebrates Festival

Mayor Cllr Val Fendley “I am in no way promising any change to what has been implemented, that is most definitely not within my gift.” But she will listen to concerns over the 20mph limit. Mayor Cllr Val Fendley “I am in no way promising any change to what has been implemented, that is most definitely not within my gift.” But she will listen to concerns over the 20mph limit.
News2 days ago

Protestor told to leave, and meeting suspended as Ramsey town council caught off guard by 20mph revolt

Town council at the time voted 8 in favour and 5 against 20mph

Stephen Moir says the Fenland chief executive Paul Medd (above) is simply wrong when he claims, in a report to be discussed by Fenland councillors next week, that the board must include a Cambridgeshire County Council member based within Fenland. Stephen Moir says the Fenland chief executive Paul Medd (above) is simply wrong when he claims, in a report to be discussed by Fenland councillors next week, that the board must include a Cambridgeshire County Council member based within Fenland.
News2 days ago

County council puts its ‘tanks’ on Fenland’s lawns in row over £20m spending plans for Wisbech

'Councillor Tierney has not been nominated or appointed by this authority to act on this council’s behalf'

Cllr Stephen Ferguson says he has Labour Party members support for him to stand as an independent candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency Cllr Stephen Ferguson says he has Labour Party members support for him to stand as an independent candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire constituency
News3 days ago

Labour woes tempt Ferguson to stand as Independent candidate in St Neots

'I have some serious thinking to do' says Cllr Stephen Ferguson

Rt Hon Chloe Smith MP keynote speech to Eastern Powerhouse Conference in Cambridge today. Rt Hon Chloe Smith MP keynote speech to Eastern Powerhouse Conference in Cambridge today.
News3 days ago

OPINION: Four things important in how the East and its people will succeed: Investment, Talent, Technology, Resilience.

The journey ahead for the Eastern Powerhouse, and the region we lead, is a demanding one

Cooking up a storm: Marianna Masters who has been selected by Labour as their Parliamentary candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire Cooking up a storm: Marianna Masters who has been selected by Labour as their Parliamentary candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire
News3 days ago

Labour ‘fury’ as Huntingdonshire members excluded from election candidate choice

Labour choice for St Neots 'incredibly undemocratic'

James Palmer (left) opening today’s Eastern Powerhouse conference in Cambridge and (right) Mayor Dr Nik Johnson visiting Middle Level Commissioners ahead of a tour of the St German's pumping station. James Palmer (left) opening today’s Eastern Powerhouse conference in Cambridge and (right) Mayor Dr Nik Johnson visiting Middle Level Commissioners ahead of a tour of the St German's pumping station.
News3 days ago

James Palmer and Nik Johnson show there is more to unite than divide them

Both believe Cambridgeshire has massive potential still to unlock for jobs and growth

Ashley Baker, 41, subjected his partner to a barrage of abuse and controlling behaviour, including making her call him during her lunchbreak from work every day and forbidding her from going to the canteen Ashley Baker, 41, subjected his partner to a barrage of abuse and controlling behaviour, including making her call him during her lunchbreak from work every day and forbidding her from going to the canteen
News4 days ago

Doddington control freak Ashley Baker jailed for 7-year abuse of his partner

He controlled all aspects of her everyday life