“Manon Lescaut,” the world famous operatic tale of tragic love premiered at Fairfield University through the Met Live program. A program that proved to be practical and entertaining, patrons were able to experience a world class opera by simply sitting in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Performing Arts and watching the live broadcast.

Starring the soprano Kristine Opolais as the titular character and tenor Roberto Alagna as her impassioned lover, this version of “Manon Lescaut” proves to be an exciting and classy affair to viewers.

“Manon Lescaut” was broadcast through the Met Live program, which presents live operas through the accessibility of the movie theater. Being a broadcast, the actors and director were able to be interviewed live in between acts, which gave viewers an in depth look into the workings of the production.

Originally written by the famous Italian composer Giacomo Puccini in the late 1800s, “Manon Lescaut” is beautifully reimagined by director Richard Eyre as the setting now takes place in German occupied France during World War II.

Taking the common narrative arc of doomed love, Eyre injects a noir feel to the production with a new setting reminiscent of classic Hollywood films and a heap of political undertones. Viewing this version, one could imagine film noir legends Humphrey Bogart or Barbara Stanwyck taking the roles of the main characters.

The story follows a French student named Des Grieux, who spends his days reading and flirting with ladies around Paris hoping to one day find the love of his life. That day comes when Manon Lescaut arrives in Paris with her overbearing brother, as she is traveling to join a convent in France. The two meet and instantly fall in love, but their relationship becomes uncertain when an old, cruel eyed tax collector named Geronte intends to kidnap Manon for himself.

Divided into four acts, the story follows the two lovers as they run away from Paris, split from each other and are eventually captured by German soldiers. Their reunion is marred by the tragedy of their circumstance, as they desperately attempt to flee their fate of being shipped to a prison camp.

Throughout the production there are a multitude of bombastic, yet beautiful sets that do little to convey the oppression of France during World War II, but still act as a classy touch to the production overall. Paired with the beautiful and emotive sounds of the orchestra, led by conductor Fabio Luisi, the setting still provides the perfect backdrop for the actors to flourish.

“Manon Lescaut,” through the Metropolitan Opera, is a beautiful reimagining of an old classic. With a fresh noir feel to the production in combination with the tremendous performances of the actors and the beautiful sets, “Manon Lescaut” is highly entertaining.

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--Junior| Opinion Editor -- Communications

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