Patricia Racette (Manon) and Kamen Chanev (Des Grieux) in Manon Lescaut, Washington National Opera, 2013 (photo by Scott Suchman)
As experienced at opening night, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Saturday evening, this revival is a success but far from a revelation. Soprano Patricia Racette had a solid role debut as Manon, youthful and sweet of tone in the first act, if not as refined as one might hope (in "In quelle trine morbide," for example), but with the needed power and dramatic presence for the main event of "Sola, perduta, abbandonata" in the last act. Kamen Chanev stepped into the role of Des Grieux at the beginning of the rehearsal process, to replace
Anne Midgette, WNO shows promise of things to come in ‘Manon Lescaut’ (Washington Post, March 4)
Philip Kennicott, Puccini's Manon Lescaut (PhilipKennicott.com, March 4)
At the podium, music director Philippe Auguin sounded a little impatient, although the fast tempi often gave the crowd scenes a good urgency. He is experimenting with a new seating arrangement for the orchestra in this production, with the strings and harp in the center of the pit, which yielded fine results in the Intermezzo and other string-centered parts of the score. Having the winds to the left and the brass to the right did seem to help with the balance, although there were still moments when the pit overpowered the stage.
This production will run through March 23, in the Kennedy Center Opera House.