Dutch National Opera presents
Hope and illusion of a tragic heroine
Dramma lirico in quattro atti
Libretto by Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica
World premiere 1 February 1893, Teatro Regio, Turin
Premiere 10 October 2016
This new production of Manon Lescaut shifts the emphasis. Manon herself, sung by Eva Maria Westbroek, looks back on her life, instead of Manon’s lover.
Manon does not fit in the prudish society that surrounds her. She comes to grief through the conflict between her feelings for the poor student Des Grieux and her desire to climb the social ladder. Puccini said, ‘I love those souls who feel like we do, who are composed of hope and illusion, and who are laughing with joy one minute and weeping with despair the next’.
Tragic female characters
The breakthrough of Manon Lescaut (1893) also meant the breakthrough of Giacomo Puccini. It gave a new impulse to the development of Italian opera, which seemed to have come to a dead end after Verdi left the theatre. Manon Lescaut - Puccini’s third opera - was a triumph not only in Milan, but also soon afterwards in London, New York, Paris and Vienna. In Manon Lescaut, Puccini found his own true Italian style. The title role is the first of the tragic female characters on whom he was also to lavish such love in later works: Mimì, Cio-Cio-San, Tosca and Liù.
In the novel by Abbé Prévost on which the libretto is based, Manon’s lover Des Grieux tells the story. But here, director Andrea Breth has Manon look back on her own life. The starting point for Breth’s Manon Lescaut is the death of Manon in an American desert. In the hallucinations of her last moments, she remembers important episodes from her life.
Eva-Maria Westbroek has become a world-famous and highly esteemed soprano. She has sung at nearly all the major opera houses and festivals in the world, including the festivals at Bayreuth and Aix-en-Provence, ROH Covent Garden, Opéra national de Paris, The Met New York, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro alla Scala, Semperoper Dresden and the Bayerische Staatsoper.
ANDREA BRETH is one of Germany’s most important stage directors. She has directed productions in Heidelberg, Bremen, Wiesbaden, Hamburg, Berlin, Zürich and Freiburg. From1992 to 1997, she was the artistic director of the Schaubühne in Berlin.
ALEXANDER JOEL studied orchestra conducting at the Vienna Conservatory of Music. From 2001 to 2007, Joel was Musical Director at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. He then joined the Staatstheater and Staatsorchester Braunschweig, from 2007 to 2014, where he specialised in German repertoire, including the operas Salome, Rosenkavalier, Parsifal and Lohengrin.
Team, Cast and Chorus
- Alexander Joel
- Stage Director
- Andrea Breth
- Set Designer
- Martin Zehetgruber
- Costume Designer
- Moidele Bickel †
- Wigs and make-up
- Cécile Kretschmar
- Lighting Designer
- Alexander Koppelmann
- Klaus Bertisch
- Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
- Dutch National Opera Chorus
- Chorus Master
- Ching-Lien Wu
- Manon Lescaut
- Eva-Maria Westbroek
- Thomas Oliemans
- Il Cavaliere Renato des Grieux
- Stefano La Colla
- Geronte di Ravoir
- Alain Coulombe
- Edmondo / Un Lampionaio
- Alessandro Scotto di Luzio
- L'Oste/ Sergente degli Arcieri
- Guillaume Antoine
- Il Maestro di ballo
- Peter Hoare
- Un Musico
- Eva Kroon
- Un Comandante di marina
- Lukas Jakobski
- Jeannette van Schaik, soprano
Maari Ernits, soprano
Zofia Hanna, mezzo soprano
Nina van Essen, mezzo soprano
* In collaboration with Dutch National Opera Academy and DNO talent
The title role is sung by Eva-Maria Westbroek. This popular soprano made her overwhelming debut with Dutch National Opera as Katerina Izmajlova in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (2006). Her many fans had looked forward to this performance for a long time. She returned as Minnie in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (2009), which was also a great success. In March/April 2017, she will be singing Marie in a new production of Wozzeck.
Thomas Oliemans is singing the role of Manon’s brother. Oliemans won great admiration for his performances in Legende, Adam in Ballingschap, Laika, Die Zauberflöte and Hänsel und Gretel (2015).
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra has been the regular orchestra partner of Dutch National Opera for over 30 years and is internationally regarded as one of the best opera orchestras. Each season, the two orchestras perform the majority of the opera productions in Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra gives a varied programme of concerts in the Concertgebouw and performs at major concert halls and festivals in the Netherlands and abroad.
Marc Albrecht is the principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and of Dutch National Opera. Gordan Nikolić is the artistic director and concertmaster of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra. In recent seasons, the orchestras for Dutch National Opera have had great success with audiences and international press alike, with productions including Die Zauberflöte, Gurre-Lieder, Lohengrin, Il viaggio a Reims, Der Rosenkavalier and Hänsel und Gretel. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht, received an Edison for their recording of the DNO production Der Schatzgräber, in December 2014. In the 2016-
2017 season, the orchestras will be performing the DNO productions Le nozze di Figaro, Manon Lescaut, Parsifal, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Wozzeck, A Dog’s Heart and Rigoletto.
The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra also brings classical music to people who do not automatically visit concert halls. Musicians go into schools to let children experience how enjoyable it is to play an instrument and listen to classical music. The musicians share their love of and passion for music with young and old, for example in hospitals or at festivals. This makes classical music accessible to all.
SIGNING SESSION with EVA MARIA WESTBROEK and THOMAS OLIEMANS
On Sunday 16 October, after the performance of Manon Lescaut, the soloists Eva Maria Westbroek (Manon) and Thomas Oliemans (Lescaut), will be at the shop to sign your purchases. This signing session is only for people with tickets for the matinee performance!
“It is in the dramatic act IV that she [Eva-Maria Westbroek] is at her best, het sumptuous soprano riding effortlessly the carpet of boisterous sound coming from Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted with much energy by Alexander Joel.” – Bachtrack
“He [Stefano la Colla] is that rare vocal species, a spinto tenor with a beautiful, ardent timbre and the required heft for Manon’s tormented lover.” // “Hij [Stefano la Colla] behoort tot die zeldzame stemsoort, een spinto tenor met een prachtig, vurig timbre en het gewicht dat nodig is voor de rol van Manon’s gekwelde geliefde.” - Operatoday
‘And the Dutch soprano, now caught up in a fantastic world career, more than fulfilled everybody’s high hopes’. - Trouw about Eva-Maria Westbroek in La fanciulla del West 2009
‘Thomas Oliemans was simply outstanding. The physical demands of the role never interfered with his warm, evenly produced baritone.’ - Bachtrack.com about Die Zauberflöte, 2015