Manon Lescaut – Puccini
Conductor James Levine; Karita Mattila, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft, Dale Travis
I'm used to sleeping in on weekends, so it was a bit of an effort to make it to the 10:00am Live from the Met HD broadcast on Saturday. This is too early for opera. I was surprised at how full the theater already was at 9:30am. I had to sit in the last row to be anywhere near the center. The audience was mostly middle-aged couples, so it doesn't look like these broadcasts are bringing in new audiences for opera.
I have to say that the show is very slickly produced. It's a different experience from seeing a live opera performance. It's amazing how close you get to the singers. Often their faces fill the entire screen. Viewers who get used to this style of presentation will probably be disappointed when they attend a live performance; they will feel very distant from the action.
In this cast Dale Travis as Geronte came across the best in this medium. He is a terrific actor & singer & commanded my attention whenever he was on-screen. Mattila is also a great actress, & the dramatic physicality of her performance came through especially strong in her protracted 4th act death scene.
& of course the Met orchestra led by Levine always sounds fantastic. Often I was listening to the orchestra more than to the singers.
The intermission features where Rene Fleming interviews harried performers just as they getting on or off stage are embarrassing. But I liked seeing the scene changes from backstage & hearing that control-desk guy cue James Levine. I also like the count-down clock to the end of the intermission. Now this would be a good feature to have at the actual opera house during intermission!
I will probably go to other broadcasts, but perhaps I'll be more likely to attend the repeat screenings that start at noon the next day. I'm interested in the Tristan, but even a Wagnerite like me isn't going to be up to it at 9 in the morning!