We are nearly at the end of the current season of operas.  Today was a French opera which I only remembered was playing last night.  It was one that I was unfamiliar with.  Manon Lescaut, played by the lovely Anna Netrebko, arrives in Paris.  Her fatal flaw is her high-spirits, which has compelled her family to send her away to a convent.  Almost instantly in Paris she encounters men: her ne’er-do-well cousin Lescaut; the wealthy Guillot who wants to possess her for her own; and the young Chevalier des Grieux, who looks like an accountant, who falls in love with her and they steal away together.  He is played by Piotr Beczala.

Paris is full of tenements and they end up in an attic.  Des Grieux is a poor aristocrat.  While Manon loves Chevalier, when she discovers that his father is going to kidnap her to end this mad affair she does not prevent it.  After that she is courted by the whirlwind of high society with powerful men and mercantile ladies.  She cannot resist when she discovers that Des Grieux has become a Abbé of the church.  They still love each other and when they meet she literally defrocks him.  There is something about a man under holy vows that women find quite irresistable.

Still Manon has a taste for the high-life and they spend his mother’s legacy in a month.  I would have thought that 30 000 francs was a lot of many in nineteenth century France but she manages it.  She convinces Chevalier that he can win against Guillot at the wealthy and unsavoury gambling den The Hotel Transylvania.  It’s not just for vampires any more.  Chevalier shows beginners luck.  Guillot is a sore loser, repeatedly shown in the opera, and calls in the law.  His ally is revealed to be the Count de Grieux and Chevalier cannot prevent Manon being carried off.

Lescaut and Chevalier bribe the prison guards and they free Manon.  Prison life hasn’t been healthy for Manon and she dies in Chevalier’s arms.  Thus ends the life of Manon Lescaut.  That’s all folks!!!

Yet again opera shows this mad love for the woman who must face her own tragedy.  What is with that?

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