Press Release, Lyric Opera of Chicago, JANUARY 30, 2008
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 54th Season Begins
MANON / Jules Massenet (in French with projected English translations)

11 performances beginning at 7:30 p.m., except opening night at 6:00 p.m. and matinees at 2:00 p.m.

Sept. 27, Oct. 1, 4 (mat.), 7, 11, 15 (mat.), 18, 21, 24, 27, 31.

Massenet's overwhelmingly romantic Manon (premiered in 1884) focuses on a captivating girl, Manon Lescaut (soprano Natalie Dessay) and Des Grieux, the hapless young nobleman who loves her (tenor Jonas Kaufmann). Rather than life in a convent, Manon chooses romance with Des Grieux, but leaves him in favor of the wealth offered by Brétigny (baritone Jake Gardner). The pull of true love leads Manon back to Des Grieux, but her craving for luxury leads him to financial ruin. He gambles against one of Manon's jilted suitors, Guillot de Morfontaine (tenor David Cangelosi), whose treachery leads to tragic consequences for Manon and her lover. The cast also includes bass Raymond Aceto as the dignified Count Des Grieux and baritone Christopher Feigum as Manon's brother Lescaut.

The conductor is Emmanuel Villaume. The production, originally created for English National Opera, is directed by David McVicar and designed by Tanya McCallin (debut). The lighting designer is Paule Constable, and the choreography is by Michael Keegan-Dolan (debut). Donald Nally is chorus master.

The Lyric Opera presentation of Manon is generously made possible by the Abbott Fund, an Anonymous Donor, Judson and Joyce Green, and Liz Stiffel.

Lyric Opera previously presented Manon during the 1973 and 1983 seasons. "David McVicar, who gave us a sensational Giulio Cesare this year, created this Manon for English National Opera, and it has traveled to Dallas, Houston, and Barcelona," says Mason. "I saw this production in Barcelona - it's brilliant. David is so theatrical - he sticks to the text and illuminates it. We're delighted to bring it to Lyric with some added scenic elements and an outstanding cast. This production combines incredible insight and an ability to make this story come alive in ways that don't deviate from the composer's intentions. David is a wonderful director who gets magnificent performances from his artists. We're very pleased to welcome back conductor Emmanuel Villaume, whom we liked so much in Samson et Dalila. And, of course, the idea of having Natalie Dessay and Jonas Kaufmann as the heroine and hero of this production is something we're very thrilled about! Jonas made his American debut with us some years back in Otello - he is now an established international star, as is Natalie, of course, and we're delighted that they're both returning to Lyric."

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