Welsh National Opera presents:
Hans Werner Henze
Armand and Manon are penniless but in love. The cruel world of 20th century capitalism and corruption will soon shatter their happiness. They will be left with nothing but memories of happier days before they strayed onto the boulevard of broken dreams.
Henze’s potent updating of the Manon story is a heady musical cocktail of jazz, 19th century opera and 20th century styles. It is an enveloping and immersive cinematic vision of European society after the war. This is the first time one of the greatest operas of the last century has been performed outside London. Join us for opera at its most powerful and compelling.
“Alongside Britten, Henze is surely the most important representative of opera in the 20th century. Boulevard Solitude overflows with sensuousness and subtlety.”
Lothar Koenigs, Music Director
Prior to every performance of Manon Lescaut and Boulevard Solitude.
The Whole Story
Thursday 6 February – Wednesday 19 March
The Whole Story is the perfect introduction to the Fallen Women season. Before the performances begin, our team of experts will guide you through the music, stories and background to each opera.
Friday 28 February
A special hour long talk looking at how the season’s operas draw on classics by Dumas and and Prévost.
David Pountney in Conversation
Thursday 7 February
David Pountney and a key figure from the arts explore the Fallen Women theme.
Armand des Grieux and his friend Francis are at a train station. Manon is being taken to a finishing school by her brother, Lescaut. She and Armand strike up a conversation and are immediately attracted to one another. Manon decides to go away with Armand. Lescaut watches them leave.
Armand and Manon are happy together but have no money. Lescaut tries to persuade Manon to take a rich lover – he has someone in mind who would support her and be a source of income for himself as well. He tells her that she must be hard-hearted to succeed in life and that she must choose between comfort and poverty.
Manon is now the spoilt mistress of Monsieur Lilaque. She writes to Armand, telling him that she misses him. Lescaut is furious that she is thinking of her old lover rather than her current protector. Lescaut’s various deals are not going well and he attempts to steal some money. He is discovered by Lilaque, who throws them both out.
Armand, Francis and other students are studying erotic Latin poetry by Catullus. Armand is distracted and unable to forget Manon. He refuses to believe that she can be guilty when Francis tells him of the theft of the money. Manon and Armand are temporarily reunited.
Manon has left Armand again and he is taking drugs to help him forget her. Lescaut is looking for his sister – he has a new client for her, Lilaque’s son. Manon arrives and attempts to calm the frantic Armand but fails. She leaves with young Lilaque but sends a message, asking Armand to meet her later.
Manon and Armand are together in young Lilaque’s apartment. Lescaut comes to warn Armand to get out before he is discovered. There is a painting on the wall which Lescaut decides to steal but he is interrupted by the arrival of Monsieur Lilaque. Manon tries to distract him but he finds Armand and Lescaut in their hiding place and calls the police. Lescaut pushes a gun into Manon’s hand and she fires. Young Lilaque returns to find Manon with the gun and the dead body of his father.
Manon is being taken to prison. Armand hopes to catch a final glimpse of her but she is taken away before they have a chance to speak
Conductor Lothar Koenigs
Director Mariusz Trelinski
Designer Boris Kudlicka
Costume Designer Marek Adamski
Lighting Designer Felice Ross
Video Designer Bartek Macias
Choreographer Tomasz Wygoda
Manon Lescaut Sarah Tynan
Armand des Grieux Peter Wedd
Lescaut Benjamin Bevan
Lilaque Pere Adrian Thompson
All performances start at 8pm
Running time approximately 1 hour 15 minutes with no interval
Sung in English with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff and Llandudno)
Welsh National Opera
Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place Cardiff CF10 5AL