Accessibility links

  • Home
  • News
  • Your reaction: Manon Lescaut in cinemas

Your reaction: Manon Lescaut in cinemas

What did you think of our live relay of Jonathan Kent’s new production of Puccini’s tragedy, starring Kristīne Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann?

By Ellen West (Head of Online Content)

24 June 2014 at 10.53pm | 43 Comments

Performances

Not everyone convinced by production

Watching from around the world

Praise for Antonio Pappano

Manon Lescaut will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 1 July.

The Royal Opera House Cinema Season relays our performances to over 1,100 cinemas in over 30 countries around the world. Find out more about the productions included in the 2014/15 Season.

Sign up to our cinema mailing list.

This production of Manon Lescaut is generously supported by Rolex, with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Susan A Olde OBE, Lord and Lady Laidlaw, Mrs Philip Kan, Marina Kulishova, Mrs Trevor Swete, Quentin Holland, Mercedes T. Bass, Bruce Kovner, the American Friends of Covent Garden and The Manon Lescaut Production Syndicate.

By Ellen West (Head of Online Content)

24 June 2014 at 10.53pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Antonio Pappano, by giacomo puccini, by Jonathan Kent, cinema, Jonas Kaufmann, Kristine Opolais, Manon Lescaut, Production, twitter, your reaction

This article has 43 comments

  1. Helen Shaw responded on 25 June 2014 at 7:27am Reply

    Performances were amazing, absolutely superb. Completely spell binding!

    Set the performances in modern day was unnecessary and did not really work, for example the exile of Manon to America made no sense when set in a modern context.

    The sets in Acts 3 and 4 were hideous

  2. Diana Bucknall responded on 25 June 2014 at 8:49am Reply

    Stupendous but I did not like the tweets being displayed. It cheapened the production. Pappano made the music live.

  3. Emmelieke responded on 25 June 2014 at 10:18am Reply

    Great performances! Interesting production, but hardly any visitors in cinema's in the Netherlands. I sincerely hope they will continue with the live performances from ROH, which are also very informative.

  4. Sally Gibbons responded on 25 June 2014 at 10:22am Reply

    Music and singing both magical - never seen Kaufmann on better form, and Pappano is irresistible (excellent news that he has renewed his contract). That said, the sad part is the production. First half is just about OK, Act 3 is completely muddled - what on earth is it about, and why does the Ship's Captain look more like the comic in "Hi Di Hi"? Were prostitutes still being deported to America in the mid-20th century? Last Act falls into the old trap that the production distracts from the performance - it was hard to concentrate knowing that the singers were in danger of a good 15 ft drop if they put a foot wrong. I shall take my opera glasses when I go to the live performance, so I can concentrate in close up without being distracted.

  5. Clarissa Henry responded on 25 June 2014 at 10:28am Reply

    Superb singing from all the cast with Jonas Kaufmann and Christine Opolais quite outstanding.
    Hated the IPads in Act I, the 'updated' costumes and set. Thank goodness Kaufmann is so fit.

    As for the direction why the soft porn? Why so much ugliness?
    However goose pimples and shivers down my spine in Act III thanks to Jonas Kaufmann

    With lesser performers the production would have been disastrous. Thanks to Kaufmann and Opalais it was unforgettable.

    • Norma responded on 19 July 2014 at 2:28pm

      Beautiful music, great voices, but why why the so call contemporay staging, iPads, vulgar costume, and those raunchy love scenes? Not necessary at all and the final act on the derelict highway, without water?please... Those artists deserve better!

  6. Michael Rouse responded on 25 June 2014 at 10:30am Reply

    Excellent singing and acting
    Great Orchestra
    Pity about dreadful costumes and awful scenary

  7. Sue Dholakia responded on 25 June 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    Puccini plus Kaufmann plus Opolais with a masterclass by Pappano equals WOW!

  8. guenievre responded on 25 June 2014 at 12:27pm Reply

    yesterday night in Aigues-Mortes (South of France)
    It was a fantastic introduction, helped by subtitles with the instructive and fascinating commentary of the Maestro Antonio Pappano.
    Great opera, beautiful music and singing!
    Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann in an amazing, hot love duet!!!
    the production is a little "kitsch"...

  9. Kevin Murray responded on 25 June 2014 at 12:33pm Reply

    My word,where do I begin?! It is the first live relay Ive attended at the cinema and on the strength of last nights performance of Manon Lescaut,it certainly wont be the last.Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais sang their roles with sheer, unadulterated passion,giving Puccinis soaring melodies spine-tingling passion and pathos.Antonio Papanno and the orchestra were on fire,the sound in the cinema was exceptional.I was expecting the production to be absurd as had read the critics reviews condemning the updated setting.They are so wrong-the update was inspired and the set was a touch of genuis.So.Safe to say I LOVED it,thanks to my local cinema!!

    • Phil Smith responded on 25 June 2014 at 1:14pm

      Couldn't agree more with everything you've said! My 1st time as well and I was just overwhelmed by the experience - possibly even more so than being in the Opera House because of the close-ups/surround sound engulfing you in a way not possible in a theatre!

  10. Maura McWilliams responded on 25 June 2014 at 1:44pm Reply

    There is a modern updating of this piece crying out to be done, regrettably, this wasn’t it. We don’t need to look too far from the ROH’s own portals for evidence of the social and gender inequality that forces women (especially those from poorer countries) into the sex industry - women who are trafficked and tricked into the work by promises of a better life and for whom the threat of deportation and falling foul of the immigration authorities is ever-present. Instead we are given the usual male fantasy of the ‘fallen’ woman served up as an ‘edgy’ commentary on celebrity culture – a culture with which the production is hypocritically complicit, trailing Opolais and Kaufmann as a ‘star couple’ and laying on the ‘sex’ with a trowel. Thankfully their singing didn’t disappoint, but the lack of imagination in this production most certainly did.

  11. Alicia Fox responded on 25 June 2014 at 1:46pm Reply

    Loved it! The music, the singing and acting was superb. Antonio Pappano is an amazing conductor. However, the sets did not really work. And I thought some of the costumes were hideous. In particular, that awful pink tutu did nothing for Manon.

  12. Robert Hughes responded on 25 June 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

    The cinema experience was outstanding. Pappano adds to the experience with his enthusiastic piano playing. Not my favourite opera but this was definitely one of the best live in cinema experiences that I have had. Well done ROH. Looking forward to next year. Bryn will be better singing than as the interval man.

  13. Peter Erdos responded on 25 June 2014 at 3:44pm Reply

    I did go to the cinema yesterday to see and hear one of my favourite Puccini operas in its latest "transformation" presented by the ROH. My conclusion is that unfortunately Jonathan Kent is obviously not familiar with Abbe Prevost's novel as I thought it is totally unnecessary to transfer into the "modern idiom" the message of the original story and keeping to those lines the production would have been more successful. Praises to the filming of the performance it managed to minimize the view of the ugliest set I have ever seen by concentrating on the close ups of the singers enabling us to enjoy the music and the magnificent acting ability of all the principals. Kaufmann is most certainly on his peak, every syllable is on its place a truly superlative performance (May I dare to say I enjoyed it even more than the Domingo of 30 years ago.) Kristine Opolais was also excellent, their voices blended together beautifully, a " golden couple" indeed.The Orchestra's response to the mastery of Pappano was magnificent together was the whole cast .A memorable musical feast of an evening with a totally forgettable visual presentation.

  14. David Davis responded on 25 June 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

    Singing spine tingling but the modern staging is absolutely awful. If Puccini had wanted it set in some space age Travelodge I think he would have done it himself and made a better job of it. Whoever gave permission for this travesty should be shot!. Poor Puccini must be spinning in his grave. The orchestra and Pappano were superb. This man knows his Puccini and I could listen to him for hours.

  15. rosalind ramiro responded on 25 June 2014 at 5:22pm Reply

    It was fantastic - great singing, great conducting and great ACTING, with all the close ups , they simply have to act and be convincing. One could see both singers were giving an "all stops out" performance. Sadly, this happens very rarely.

  16. Joanne responded on 25 June 2014 at 8:43pm Reply

    My first opera so wasn't too sure what to expect. WOW I absolutely loved it . Extremely good idea to broadcast live at cinema's - we got the interviews (with Jonas, Christina and Tony - what talents!, we got character outlines and sub titles (which I know you can't take as verbatim) super helpful for a newbie like me. I will be back ! Already booked my tickets (and bought hankies) for Madama Butterfly. THANK YOU ROH!

  17. russell johns responded on 25 June 2014 at 9:28pm Reply

    a very successful production - lead singers and orchestra of amazing quality. Thought the modern day setting worked very well the only query is Manon's costumes. First time seeing opera broadcast live and I thought it an excellent experience.

  18. sabira responded on 25 June 2014 at 9:39pm Reply

    Congrats to the absolutely fab production: Jonas is a miracle: His outstanding+touching singing/acting brings you down on your knees. He is an absolute unique artist. K. Opolais matches him visually, beautiful singing sometimes,but sorry- her voice lacks the natural power and passion to match (perhaps she will learn from Jonas how to relax her voice+let it flow in the lower register as well). But her looks/acting make good on the screen. The end was heart wrenching. Thanks to the concussive blow of Kent´s directing holding up a mirror to society, the opera really treads on the corns. Well done!!! Finally thanks to the adorable conducting of Maestro Pappano +the orchestra.It was a great night. Thanks for sharing it with the world. Thanks to all.

  19. françois responded on 25 June 2014 at 9:41pm Reply

    I saw it from a Parisian venue. First, I found the ROH sound engineer really outstanding, please do congratulate him/her! The sound was really excellent, allowing to listen to every instrument of the orchestra. The orchestra sounded so beautifully, it was a jewel! And the global balance with singers, the spacialization, were perfect. This was the best sound captation I've ever heard, much better than the one we usually have for the Met and Bolchoi broadcasts.

    It was my second experience with this production (I attended the Premiere at Covent Garden). I enjoyed the first time, but I must say that this time I did really love it! Despite all its drawbacks and incoherences, this production really succeeds in supporting fever, passion, climax. Singers were excellent again, and J.Kaufmann - C.Opolais were even more amazing than last week. As for Pappano's conducting, this has been among my best experience with Puccini for years.
    Around me people at the venue were enthusiastic.
    And during the interval, Bryn Terfel was so Shakesperian, it was fantastic!

    • Hi François,

      Thank you for your kind comments about the sound - I will pass on to the rest of the team.

      Regards,

      Mark Thackeray
      Broadcast Engineer, Royal Opera House

  20. Janet Young responded on 25 June 2014 at 10:58pm Reply

    The costumes and scenery were so distracting that it was difficult to understand how the singers could perform so well, for example, when trussed up looking like a prostitute and pimp in Act 2. Pappano gave two wonderful commentaries on the score and for me this was the highlight of the screening: these were the only parts that felt authentic in emotion and understanding of the music. The Italian coach talked about the vernacular Italian and gestures of the period and yet the words and actions in the production seemed to be at odds with one another.

  21. Cathel Austin responded on 25 June 2014 at 11:02pm Reply

    I/we loved this production. Opolais and Kaufman were captivating when performing together, oozing sex appeal. ROH needs to continue to challenge, provoke and entice new people to watch and listen to opera. In my view, this approach to staging opera is the only way to win over a wider audience and avoid often incorrect perceptions of elitism. The production values were outstanding, Kristine and Jonas are as attractive & talented as any of our world class theatre and movie actors. The themes that run through out the story of Manon Lescaut, particularly the exploitation of young women by rich and powerful men, are as relevant today as when the story was first written and Puccini composed it. Berlusconi, immediately, springs to mind! Well done to all those involved from conception to staging of this amazing production.

    Watched by us, John & Cathel, at Darlington Cinema

  22. Christine Johnson responded on 26 June 2014 at 12:21am Reply

    Loved it! The sheer energy of Jonas and Kristina mind blowing. Why did the final act have to be performed at such a height? I had to hold.my breath all the time hoping the didn't fall off! Disappointed not to get the subtitles until Act 3. Second time this has happened in our cinema. Whose fault?

  23. Flo responded on 26 June 2014 at 5:26am Reply

    Fantastique ! Magnifique ! J'ai vu cet opéra en France, en retransmission directe et c'était un pur régal pour les yeux et les oreilles.

    Bravo à tous !

  24. Derek Bacon responded on 26 June 2014 at 11:18am Reply

    We decided to go only at the last minute because the negative press reviews had put us off but what a good lesson in learning to ignore the critics. We LOVED it! Bold, brave production but it worked for us as an evening of great music. Yes, there were surprising scenes (and unnecessarily expensive to mount?) but we were happy to go with it and we had a super evening's entertainment. Well done, ROH and Cineworld!
    We'll go to everything we can with this cinema format. We've been to the cinema so often this past year for opera and theatre productions.

  25. Don Hoyle responded on 26 June 2014 at 11:51am Reply

    First - brilliant to experience such quality theatre in a rural part of England where the local theatre closed due to council funding cuts. The singing was first class, as was the direction of Pappano. Did not think the updating worked in Acts 3 & 4. Don & Sandra Taunton England

  26. noel patrick responded on 26 June 2014 at 1:24pm Reply

    Attended Manon Lescaut in Belfast on the 23rd June. It was an evening of beautiful and wonderful music.
    Antonio Papanno along with Jonas Kaufmann and Kristine Opolais were all on great form and produced an evening of opera worthy of the Royal Opera House. It appeared to be very well received by the audience in the cinema (which was well filled.
    With regard to the debate concerning the staging, I found it a bit confusing. An 18th Century setting might have been easier to understand and follow, however, I didn't think the modern setting overly detracted from what was a truly enjoyable evening. Bravo ROH keep up the good work.

  27. Stephanie responded on 26 June 2014 at 2:20pm Reply

    This opera was superb: full of life and passion. The setting, sets and costumes turned it into an challenging sideways reflection of twenty-first century life and its obsession with material culture and celebrity. They were inspired! Wonderful leads, with real chemistry, wonderful music and congratulations to the set and costume designers for some very clever and thought provoking themes. Maintain your vision!

  28. Barbara responded on 26 June 2014 at 4:36pm Reply

    When will we in the USA be able to see this fabulous performance?

    It is just killing me to read all these wonderful, superb reviews and not be able to see what so much of the rest of the world has had the privilege of seeing.

    ROH is such a gem! It's just a shame for opera lovers in the US not to be able to enjoy your wonderful productions until, and if, they are on dvd. So, please, will this ever be shown in US movie houses?

  29. Silvia Nieder responded on 26 June 2014 at 7:35pm Reply

    Dear Mrs. West
    My name is Silvia Nieder and I live in Trieste (N-E of Italy). Last evening I saw your excellent production of Manon Lescant. Thanks to Mo. Pappano for giving us such unforgettable emotions but actually all the cast was good indeed. I work in a Company and study at the University of Venice too (Music and Performing Art). Having recently analised Manon Lescaut I kindly ask you to contact me by email. I'd like to clarify some moments of Mr. Kent's direction that I found really interesting, it should be really appreciated. Many Thanks

  30. Michael Woodhouse responded on 27 June 2014 at 9:00am Reply

    A wonderful, emotional experience. The singing and direction were superb. The staging was innovative and carefully thought out to highlight the dramatic impact of each Act, especially in the final Act's "road to nowhere" .
    Unlike some other recentvROH productions the casting of the lead singers was a perfect match for the parts.

  31. JJ responded on 27 June 2014 at 2:48pm Reply

    As usual anything SIr Antonio touches is pure gold. Great singing and acting all round, liked the contempory staging exept Manon's hideous outfit in act two, maybe it's was more about what JK would like to wear rather than a sexy contempory outfit that would be more realistic?

    Great news on the new contract for SIr, the ROH is truly indebted to him for so many world class performances.

  32. Bertie Woolsey responded on 27 June 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

    Yet again live opera relay started without SURTITLES switched . ODEON -MAIDENHEAD -BERKSHIRE
    4th time in arrow .
    Both Covent Garden live Opera and Met live opera never have the surtitles on without prompting and a fight at this venue . Dismissive attitude by ODEON cinema staff-- MAIDENHEAD BERKS .
    They need areal ROLLICKING from the powers to be at ROH .
    It is ruining the showing every time .

  33. Helen Berry responded on 28 June 2014 at 6:25pm Reply

    This was an outstanding production in every way - easily the best live relay I have yet seen from ROH. Kaufman and Opolais were superb; the staging was powerful; Bryn Terfel is a great presenter (not a bad singer either!!), and Pappano's introductions are insightful and helpful. PLEASE tell me this will be issued as a DVD or live CD recording!

    • Ellen West (Head of Online Content) responded on 29 June 2014 at 8:46pm

      Dear Helen

      It has yet to be confirmed whether this production will be released on DVD or CD.

      Best wishes

      Ellen

  34. Marzia responded on 30 June 2014 at 9:24pm Reply

    Why there aren't cinemas in Italy? I'm in the north of Italy.

    • Chris Shipman (Content Producer (Social Media and News)) responded on 2 July 2014 at 10:24am

      Hi Marzia,

      Do check back as we regularly add cinemas and not all venues are yet confirmed for the 2014/15 Cinema Season.

      Thanks,

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  35. Juan Antonio Muñoz responded on 30 June 2014 at 11:05pm Reply

    Giacomo Puccini‘s popular “Manon Lescaut” is an opera about a desperate love born under the ominous stars of lust and money. Although Manon loves, she cannot fail to yield to the temptation of luxury, and her lover, knowing what she is like, does not resign himself to abandon her. The story tells about trade in women, “machismo” and youthful sexual energy, but as all of it happens in the middle of the 18th Century, a time of petticoats and wigs, none of this has ever been very explicit.
    This is not the case of the Covent Garden’s production premiered on Tuesday, June 17, which split the audience into two: some wildly applauded régisseur Jonathan Kent’s proposal and Paul Brown’s designs while others booed, visibly upset.
    The opera scene changed dramatically in recent years and, whether you like it or not, you have to learn to live with it. This “Manon Lescaut”, musically and vocally memorable, will always be remembered for its radical dramatic coherence and for driving Kent’s and his staff’s concepts to extremes, without taking the least account of what people will say or caring about the taste of the more traditional fans. There were no scruples or concessions made. The theatre itself bravely supports its commitment, which is demonstrated in the playbill which includes a crude article entitled “Sex for sale”, signed by Julia O’Connell Davidson, professor of sociology at the University of Nottingham, expert in sex and children trafficking, and author of books such as “Prostitution, Power and Freedom” (1998) and “Methods, Sex and Madness” (1994)
    The action is transferred to the 21st Century, a time when modesty has become a museum piece. The first act takes place beside a motel for couples on the road, linked to a casino where sex is traded in cash. Manon (Kristine Opolais) arrives in a SUV, driven by her brother (Christopher Maltman), who aims to sell her to the rich and old Geronte de Revoir (Maurizio Muraro). She is rescued by the young and impetuous Renato des Grieux (Jonas Kaufmann), who falls in love with her at first sight and takes her to Paris. But after she has spent some time in the arms of her poor lover, she yearns for a life of comfort.
    The second act of this production takes us to a sort of showcase of a “red light district” where Manon is at the beck and call of a master who shows her off to his friends and organizes music and dance sessions to recover (or remember) his lost sexual vitality. Thus, the musician, a role composed to be sung by a mezzo-soprano (Nadezhda Karyazina), has a sort of Lesbian scene with Manon, while the dance teacher (Robert Burt) rehearses with her the erotic routine that feeds Geronte’s hopes.
    But Des Grieux loves her despite all of this and returns to look for her. After all his recriminations, she manages to seduce him once again; the love duet is sung between Manon’s legs. They are surprised in middle of a love scene and she is taken prisoner. The third act is in the port from where she will be deported together with other prostitutes, who are locked up in a kind of container in front of a walkway that leads them to a big poster advertising “Naïveté” (naivety) with an eager woman’s face placed beside a red orchid that is opening. The television closely follows the path of these women, left to the mercy and harassment of a public commenting on them and insulting them; a sort of criticism of the entertainment media and the audience it feeds. The fourth act takes place in the desert of Louisiana, where Manon dies of thirst in a semi destroyed causeway: the lovers end their days in a path that leads them nowhere.
    Maybe this will shock or anger some people, but the fact is that, despite a somewhat cold first act and a second act verging on the “too much”, everything is well done and works like clockwork. Risqué? Yes, because the subject matter is risqué. But it is also bleak, decadent and tragic, and this is always made quite clear. Furthermore, the scenic apparatus of the Royal Opera House is so spectacular that it dazzles and fascinates, above all in the third act, with the huge grid of lights intervening the space to account for the port and also the morbid attention of the people and the media that profits from the misfortune of others.
    It is very hard to find in the world a couple of singers who are able to do this. First of all, because the régie requires young, trained and beautiful bodies and also because on top of the difficulties of the score, there is constant scenic daring, especially for the soprano. Here there is no modesty.
    Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann received a rousing ovation. She wore a mini skirt throughout the whole opera, sporting long, slender legs and sexy shoulders and insinuating a large bosom to which the libretto dedicates more than one phrase. He wore a tight linen shirt and slim fit trousers.
    Opolais is a tall, blond, good-looking soprano, a convincing actress who sings with a certain refinement. She masters her character with a powerful and malleable voice and has no difficulties in any part of the vocal range. However, she needs to develop the internal vibration great Puccini interpreters have. The vocal personality is still trapped and pending, but we must closely follow her because her name is already in the best theatres.
    And Jonas Kaufmann conquered the room from the very start with his passionate, and on occasions, demented singing. As if oblivious of himself, the tenor moved to tears with the desperate plea with which he softens the captain of the ship and in the final duet, “Fra le tue braccia”. His voice is a thick, virile and dark column from the low notes up to the highest ones, and his singing is a flexible design of shades and halftones that always translates itself into emotion.
    At the head of the magnificent Royal Opera House orchestra, Antonio Pappano showed why he is one of the best conductors of today. This rich score was shown in all its details, with those beautiful melodies that float between the voices and the orchestral sounds. The variety of the instrumental texture went hand in hand with the maestro’s eagerness to show the chromatic harmony and the recurrent motifs that link this Puccinian title with Wagner.

  36. Paul Close responded on 20 July 2014 at 1:03pm Reply

    Passionate, sexy and powerful . The chemistry between Manon and De Grieux was palpable. Loved it. Saw it today in Byron Bay, Australia

  37. Ann Fenton responded on 21 July 2014 at 9:54pm Reply

    Loved the sets and the stars - didn't quite get the ladies of the night being exported. Sound wasn't quite 'surround' enough for me - maybe it was the theatre (Palace Norton St Sydney). Finale on the buckled motorway was a great idea - like the San Fran freeway earthquake scene we all saw on our tellies once, their lives were violently disrupted and about to end in tragedy. Sat stunned after film finished like many in the theatre. Can't wait for Il Trittico!

Comment on this article

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional