Magazine article Opera Canada

Chicago

Magazine article Opera Canada

Chicago

Article excerpt

Massenet's Manon, with which Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its 2008/09 season Sept. 27, is the Frenchest of French Operas. It is not a Greek tragedy, nor is it a theatrical exercise in the manner of Bertolt Brecht. Yet these elements more than intruded on the music in David McVicar's staging. Choristers, arranged in stadium-style tiers, commented on the action with multitudes of oohs, aahs and ha-has. In the most intimate scenes, involving only a few characters, extraneous supers peered around corners and fiddled with props for the principals, along the anti-illsionist lines of Brecht. McVicar's depiction of the Hotel de Transylvanie gambling scene as Hogarth's Bedlam was an interesting idea, but Lyri's printed program made an error in running a drawing that revealed that establishment to be extremely elegant.

As is customary with Lyric, musical matters were on a high plane. Natalie Dessay was in glorious form as Manon. Her voice was crystalline in tone and astonishingly accurate in execution in the past, but here a warmth and richness was newly added. …

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