Opera by Jules Massenet
Geraldine Farrar in the title role
Based onManon Lescaut
by Abbé Prévost
19 January 1884 (1884-01-19)

Manon (French pronunciation: ​[manɔ̃]) is an opéra comique in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille, based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. It was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 19 January 1884, with sets designed by Eugène Carpezat (Act I), Auguste Alfred Rubé and Philippe Chaperon (Acts II and III), and Jean-Baptiste Lavastre (Act IV).

Prior to Massenet's work, Halévy (Manon Lescaut, ballet, 1830) and Auber (Manon Lescaut, opéra comique, 1856) had used the subject for musical stage works. Massenet also wrote a one-act sequel to Manon, Le portrait de Manon (1894), involving the Chevalier des Grieux as an older man.[1]The composer worked at the score of Manon at his country home outside Paris and also at a house at The Hague once occupied by Prévost himself.[2]

Manon is Massenet's most popular and enduring opera and, having "quickly conquered the world's stages",[3] it has maintained an important place in the repertory since its creation. It is the quintessential example of the charm and vitality of the music and culture of the Parisian Belle Époque. In 1893 an opera by Giacomo Puccini entitled Manon Lescaut, and based on the same novel was premiered and has also become popular.

Performance history

"Gathering around a score" by Charles Baude (1853–1935) shows Massenet rehearsing Manon with Sibyl Sanderson in Pierre Loti's drawing room. It was used as the cover of Le Théâtre in July 1889.

The opera was a mainstay of the Opéra-Comique in Paris, reaching its 1,000th performance there in 1919, its 1,500th in 1931 and 2,000th in 1952.[4]

The first Manon was Marie Heilbron; other noted interpreters include Sibyl Sanderson (Massenet's personal favorite), Fanny Heldy, Lucrezia Bori, Amelita Galli-Curci, Bidu Sayão, Victoria de los Ángeles, Anna Moffo, Beverly Sills, Edita Gruberová, Renée Fleming, Anna Netrebko, and Natalie Dessay. Due to its heavy vocal demands, the role of Manon was described by Sills as "the French Isolde". As famous interpreters of Des Grieux, Kobbé lists Edmond Clément, Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa and Ferruccio Tagliavini; Wolff also lists Gaston Micheletti, Adolphe Maréchal, Charles Fontaine and Libero de Luca.

Within a year of its Paris premiere, Manon was given its UK premiere in January 1885, in Liverpool; in the US, the Academy of Music in New York presented the opera later the same year, on 23 December.[3] At the Royal Opera House in London it was first presented 19 May 1891, and in the post-war period the company has given it two productions, in 1947 and 1987.[5] The Metropolitan Opera gave its first staging on 16 January 1895, and Manon has subsequently been performed there on 266 occasions. Anna Netrebko recently starred in a new production directed by Laurent Pelly, a co-production with the Royal Opera House, which was simulcast in HD on 7 April 2012.[6] The San Francisco Opera gave the opera many stagings beginning on 29 September 1924, the most recent being November 1998.[7]

In the 1980s a piano score was discovered where spoken dialogue was set as recitative by Massenet, possibly for the Italian premiere; this version was performed at the Opéra de Saint-Etienne as part of the 2009 Massenet Festival.[8]

Today, Manon is frequently performed. In 2014 Operabase showed 19 countries presenting (or planning to present) a total of 425 performances of 81 productions in 61 cities. [9]

The ballet L'histoire de Manon by Kenneth MacMillan, although using music entirely written by Massenet, does not include any from Manon.[10]

Other Languages
català: Manon
čeština: Manon (Massenet)
eesti: Manon
Ελληνικά: Μανόν
español: Manon
français: Manon (opéra)
한국어: 마농
հայերեն: Մանոն
hrvatski: Manon
Nederlands: Manon (opera)
polski: Manon
português: Manon
Simple English: Manon
slovenščina: Manon (opera)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Manon
svenska: Manon (opera)
українська: Манон
Tiếng Việt: Manon