Opera Scotland

Manon Lescaut 2019Deutsche Oper, Berlin

Read more about the opera Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut

It is almost forty years since Scottish Opera's only production of Manon Lescaut was last heard, and so the Usher Hall was packed to hear this concert presentation of a rarely performed work. It is undoubtedly poorly structured - apart from the beginning and end, Puccini sets scenes not included a decade earlier by Massenet. His large team of collaborators was never likely to provide a unified concept. However the good parts - and there are many - are very good indeed.

The keen anticipation proved justified, as from the very outset the audience was gripped by magnificent singing from every cast member, crowned by a stunning performance of the title role by the American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. This was her Scottish debut, though anyone regularly attending cinema relays from the Met will have been familiar with the superb singing actress she has become.

Donald Runnicles, returning to his native country, drew a blazing performance from the orchestra of Deutche Oper Berlin, but one that in no way was allowed to overpower the singers.

The semi-staged production made its effect with no use of costume other than evening dress. The emotion and intermittent flashes of humour in the drama were effectively projected. The acting was all the more powerful for its occasional and restrained nature, though movement sometimes distracted.

Overall, the whole made for a hugely memorable evening meeting the standards of a very special Festival occasion.

 

The opera programme for the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

This included just two fully-staged productions.

The Komische Opera, Berlin, last here in 2015, brought a staging by director Barrie Kosky of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Scottish Opera's contribution was the European premiere of the noted American compoer Missy Mazzoli's interpretation of Breaking the Waves, a bleak view of life in the Scottish Highlands, as depicted in the 1996 film by Lars von Trier.

The series of notable concert performances continued with Götterdämmerung, concluding the Festival's four-year cycle of Wagner's Ring. A second Berlin company, the Deutsche Oper, led by its Scottish conductor, Donald Runnicles, brought Puccini's rare early Manon Lescaut featuring Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role. Iestyn Davies led the cast in a performance of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

There was a rare and wonderful Elgar oratorio, the Kingdom, with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus joined by Martyn Brabbins and the Hallé. Even more unusual was the celebration of Leonard Bernstein's centenary - a concert presentation by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra of his great musical West Side Siory.  

In addition, the opening concert featured the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel in Mahler's inspiring 'Resurrection' Symphony. And the Orchestre de Paris brought Britten's War Requiem.

Performance DatesManon Lescaut 2019

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

22 Aug, 19.30

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