Opera Warwick is set to perform a new English-language production of Massenet’s Manon (1884), the composer’s most popular and enduring opera. The company is the student-run opera society at the University of Warwick in Coventry.
Massenet’s opera is an opéra comique set to a French libretto by French dramatists Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille. It is based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost.
A tale of love, greed and betrayal, it tells the story of the eponymous Manon, a young girl who dreams of riches and fame, but is being sent to a convent by her family. She meets Le Chevalier des Grieux, who falls in love with her, and the two elope to Paris.
They live happily for some years, until Manon is persuaded to leave the chevalier for luxury and riches with the nobleman De Brétigny. Des Grieux is so devastated that he decides to enter into the priesthood. Manon hears of this and rushes to convince him of their love.
The two are reunited, until they gamble away their fortune and are arrested for cheating in a game. Des Grieux is released, but Manon is sentenced to prison and deportation to America. Des Grieux seeks her out to rescue her, but arrives too late. Manon dies in his arms.
Opéra comique is a genre of French opera which contains spoken dialogue and arias. It isn’t necessarily light hearted or comical, as the tragic outcome of Massenet’s opera demonstrates.
Opera Warwick’s new production, which will be sung in English, will be performed at the Warwick Arts Centre within the University of Warwick. It is a co-production with the university’s Classical and Modern Dance Society.
Performances take place at 7pm from 9-11 March. The show lasts 3 hours and 10 minutes, including intervals. Tickets are on sale now, costing £15.50, £13.50 for senior citizens and job seekers, and £10.50 for students.
“We’ve been working really hard and we can’t wait for you to see it! Come enjoy a wonderful and affordable show!” Opera Warwick said in a statement, describing the opera as the ideal show for newcomers to opera and seasoned spectators.
Opera Warwick is set to stage a new English-language version of Massenet’s Manon.