With Love from Paris: Premiere of "Manon" at the LNOBT



It is an undeniable truth that Paris is the city of love. This truth shall be proven once more by the premiere of Jules Massenet’s “Manon”, which shall grace the main stage of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre on 18 September and at the same time launch the new season.

The database of operatic works “Operabase” indicates that there are currently 81 productions of “Manon”, presented in 19 countries and 61 town. The current Lithuanian production shall be witnessed not only by Lithuanian theatregoers, but also those in the USA and Israel – this new “Manon” is a co-production between the LNOBT, San Francisco Opera and the Israeli Opera.

Who is Manon? Young, beautiful, fatal and, of course, sinful woman, who is ruined amidst the frivolities of Paris by the men who seduced her and were seduced by her. The latter ones include not only the characters of the opera, but also famous and respectable composers!

A little bit of history: operas based on the immediately banned L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut (1731) by the Abbé Prévost were written not only by J. Massenet, but also thirty years earlier by Daniel Auber and ten years later by Giacomo Puccini. The latter commented his decision by saying “Why can’t there be a few operas about Manon? After all, a woman like Manon is allowed to have more than one lover”.

J. Massenet’s “Manon” was unveiled in Paris in 1884, and remained the favourite of theatregoers for a very long time. Thousands of performances have been shown up to this day. Unfortunately, “Manon” wasn’t too successful in Lithuania – the opera was produced only before the war in Kaunas (1939) and Vilnius (1964). This masterpiece by J. Massenet radiates magnificent charm of the “La Belle Époque” – in current production it shall be revealed by a team of French artists.

The music director of the upcoming premiere is a famous French conductor Cyril Diederich. Having conducted in Vilnius before, he was invited to work on “Manon” to introduce his proficiency and the understanding of French operatic tradition to our performers. According to LNOBT’s general manager Gintautas Kėvišas, “This premiere must turn into an entirely new experience not only to the audience, but also to the soloists, orchestra, chorus, the whole theatre”. G. Kėvišas also noted that the main criterion while choosing the director was his closeness to the traditions of French opera. The talented director Vincent Boussard (who in this production is also a costume designer) is mainly working in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria. 

Other members of the creative team include conductor Julius Geniušas, set designer Vincent Lemaire (Belgium), lighting designer Levas Kleinas, chorus master Česlovas Radžiūnas. The principal role of Manon is being prepared by three soloists: Fabienne Conrad from France and Lithuanians Viktorija Miškūnaitė and Regina Šilinskaitė. Her lover Des Grieux shall be performed by tenors Ho-Yoon Chung (South Korea) and Michael Spadaccini (Belgium). Other singers include Eugenijus Chrebtovas and Dainius Stumbras (Manon’s cousin Lescaut), Liudas Norvaišas and Liudas Mikalauskas (Count Des Grieux), Mindaugas Jankauskas and Rafailas Karpis (Guillot), Šarūnas Šapalas and Jonas Sakalauskas (De Bretigny) and many other soloists.

“Manon” premieres at the LNOBT – 18, 19 and 26 September. 


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