Scottish Opera: Manon
All singing, all dancing might be a phrase originally applied to musicals, but it’s a description that well fits Scottish Opera’s new production of Manon. A chorus of 40, orchestra of 60-plus, fully choreographed ballet scenes and at least eight soloists mean that this is a big show.
First performed in Paris in 1884, Massenet’s Manon has, surprisingly, not been performed by Scottish Opera before now. The idea of bringing it into the company’s repertoire came from Music Director, Francesco Corti. ‘It’s a big piece, both in terms of length – three hours – and the artistic message it conveys,’ he says. ‘It is about the power of love and the power of money, and how these two strong powers lead to the devastating consequences of the short life of Manon and financial ruination for her faithful lover.’ For Corti, there are a number of stereotypical women in the world of opera – Carmen, Salome, Lulu – and to these he would, without doubt, add Manon.
The score, says Corti, ‘is like French perfume. You smell something very clearly at the beginning and ten minutes later you discover all sorts of different nuances.’ Massenet’s writing gives detailed dynamics which, for Corti, ‘makes a very rich sound, with deep and intense orchestral colours.’
The production also gives opportunity for three young singers in the Scottish Opera stable to extend their experience. Sarah Redgwick, Catriona Barr and Louise Poole are all developing operatic careers through the company. ‘They are absolutely ready for it,’ says Corti, ‘and are having a chance to show that they are going forward.’ Not only are they three names to keep an eye on, but, says Corti, ‘there is a more enjoyable atmosphere working with young singers than some of the big stars.’
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Wed 20, Sat 23, Fri 29 & Sun 31 May; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 20, Wed 24 & Fri 26 Jun