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Le Portrait de Manon & Les Nuits d'ete



Le Portrait de Manon and Les Nuits d’été

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Opera Rara's commitment to upcoming young artists has been an essential part of the company’s work since it began and this new release features a double bill of Massenet’s Le Portrait... read more

BUY TRACKS
Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 Le Portrait de Manon: Prélude02:27
playstop02 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Hardi ! Hardi ! Les jeunes filles’01:26
playstop03 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘L’amour, toujours l’amour maudit !’01:37
playstop04 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Hardi ! Hardi ! Les jeunes filles’00:30
playstop05 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Et le calme suprême’05:15
playstop06 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Mais quelqu’un vient’01:07
playstop07 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘En l’an deux cent onze de Rome’01:17
playstop08 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘C’est fort bien !’02:02
playstop09 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘A l’heure où la rose s’éveille’04:28
playstop10 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Mon camarade’01:30
playstop11 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Dans le puits où jadis logeait la Vérité’02:15
playstop12 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Qu’est-ce encore ? de l’argent ?’01:12
playstop13 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Bon monsieur, vous avez réussi’01:30
playstop14 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Aurore, il faut mourir !’02:42
playstop15 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Les yeux dans vos yeux, à genoux’02:11
playstop16 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘On se serait assis sur le gazon’02:34
playstop17 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Bravo ! Bravo !’00:42
playstop18 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Le chevalier toujours me cacha ce portrait’01:41
playstop19 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Vous méritez un châtiment sévère !’00:32
playstop20 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Le pauvre enfant!’03:00
playstop21 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘L’amour, ineffable mystère’01:04
playstop22 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Enfants…mes chers enfants !’02:27
playstop23 Le Portrait de Manon: ‘Aurore !’01:29
playstop24 Les Nuits d'été: ‘Villanelle’02:10
playstop25 Les Nuits d'été: ‘Le Spectre de la rose’06:22
playstop26 Les Nuits d'été: ‘Sur les Lagunes’06:12
playstop27 Les Nuits d'été: ‘Absence’05:37
playstop28 Les Nuits d'été: ‘Au cimetière’06:51
playstop29 Les Nuits d'été: ‘L’Île inconnue’04:04

Opera Rara's commitment to upcoming young artists has been an essential part of the company’s work since it began and this new release features a double bill of Massenet’s Le Portrait de Manon and Berlioz’s song cycle Les Nuits d’été, recorded from live staged performances at the Royal Opera House with artists from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and the Southbank Sinfonia.This is the first time the composers Massenet and Berlioz have appeared as part of the Opera Rara catalogue.

Le Portrait de Manon (1894) – from the opening bars of Des Grieux’s celebrated air “Ah fuyez, douce image”, the score is peppered with familiar quotations from Massenet’s earlier work, Manon – written 10 years before. Des Grieux (ZhengZhong Zhou) is now an old man, still obsessed with memories of his lost love Manon, and keeps a portrait of her in a sealed box. He is worried when his impressionable young nephew Jean (Hanna Hipp) tells of his love for a penniless girl, Aurore (Susana Gaspar), convinced that she is little more than a gold-digger. Persuaded by his friend Tiberge (Pablo Bemsch), Des Grieux comes to realise that their love is genuine when they discover the portrait and it is revealed that Aurore is, in fact, the niece of his beloved Manon.

Les Nuits d’été – We are more familiar with hearing the cycle performed in concert by a solo voice but Berlioz did, in fact, intend these songs to be distributed amongst a number of different voice types, so it seems a natural choice to follow this arrangement for the young artists performing here.

This 1CD set, a live recording from a staged performance, comes with a lavishly illustrated book, including a complete libretto for Le Portrait de Manon and song translations for Les Nuits d’été and detailed notes on these pieces from musicologist Hugh Macdonald.

Visit the News page for recording reviews

 

ZhengZhong Zhou, Hanna Hipp, Pablo Bemsch, Susana Gaspar, Southbank Sinfonia, Geoffrey Patterson (conductor, Le Portrait de Manon) and Volker Kraff (conductor, Les Nuits d’été)

Le Portrait de Manon - Synopsis

The opera is set in the mid-eighteenth century. The action takes place in a richly furnished room in the Chevalier Des Grieux's country château. Through a French window can be seen the village square where villagers are singing and dancing. The voice of the young girl Aurore is heard over their song. Des Grieux, now no longer the dashing young man from the opera Manon, enters the room and muses bitterly on the pain of love. He loves Aurore's voice but is at the same time troubled by it, for it reminds him of his tragic love of Manon. Holding a miniature portrait of her, he recalls their first meeting at a coaching inn in Amiens, then their happy days living together in Paris, Manon's love of extravagance, his family's objections, and the tragic outcome of their love.

He puts away Manon's portrait as Jean comes in. He is the eighteen-year-old Vicomte de Morceuf, Des Grieux's nephew and ward. He is also his pupil, and they sit down together to study Roman history. Jean recites the story of the Continence of Scipio (a favourite subject for eighteenth-century painters), in which the older Scipio freely hands over his beautiful captive slave to the man she loves. 'How can one live without love?' murmurs Jean, and then confess to his uncle that he is in love himself.

Des Grieux is troubled to think that his instruction has fallen on deaf ears and asks who can have inspired such love. As Jean describes the girl, Des Grieux is reminded of Manon, and when Jean names her as sixteen-year-old Aurore, Des Grieux is horrified because she is a girl of no standing and no family, not worthy to be a Vicomtesse. Jean leaves downhearted, and Des Grieux's eccentric friend Tiberge comes in with some verse for his host to hear. The poem does not please him, nor does the fable that follows. When Tiberge mentions Manon's name, Des Grieux, trying to forget the painful past, is enraged. Tiberge then pleads the cause of Jean and Aurore, which Des Grieux abruptly dismisses as an impossible union and goes out.

The lovers come in, believing Tiberge has won Des Grieux over. Tiberge gives them the bad news and leaves. They have no choice but to die. But how? Drowning? Too horrible! Poison? Too painful! Hanging? No! A sword through the heart? No, the heart is full of love! Aurore sings a song her grandmother taught her about shepherds and shepherdess in love. Jean insists on a kiss. As a tease Aurore evades him and in the scuffle they knock the portrait of Manon out of its box. Jean had never seen it before. When Tiberge comes in and sees the portrait, he has an idea and leads Aurore out.

Des Grieux comes in, angry with Jean for bringing Aurore to the château. Jean is ordered to leave that evening. As night falls Des Grieux is now alone. Sorry that he has been so rigid with Jean he is proud to have deprived love of yet another victim. The memory of Manon haunts him still.

Suddenly he sees Aurore outside the window, dressed as Manon as she was in the hostelry in Amiens. He is overcome, knowing that 'love is truth' and that Manon would have wished love to triumph. He brings in Aurore, who is followed by Jean and Tiberge. Des Grieux relents and gives the lovers his blessing. Tiberge reveals that Aurore's father was Lescaut, Manon's brother, hence the likeness, and that he knew about the portrait all along. Everyone is overjoyed.

 Hugh Macdonald


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