I saw Manon Lescaut performed by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday night.
I was very much looking forward to it, seeing it as sort of counterpoint to the wonderful Don Giovanni I saw last year, but with the unreliable lover being a woman (the titular Manon) rather than a man.
The music was wonderfully romantic, as you’d expect from a tragic love story by Puccini. But I just didn’t feel like, at least at this performance, the singers added much to it. No one really had that moment that made me go, ‘wow, that person just nailed it.’ The closest anyone came was Manon’s brother (simply called ‘Lescaut’), who captured the character’s rakish, lascivious greed, while never ignoring the (somewhat corrupted) core of fraternal love. Everyone else did their part, but maybe not much more.