[Met Performance] CID:198460
Manon {205} Masonic Temple, Detroit, Michigan: 05/29/1964.

(Review)


Detroit, Michigan
May 29, 1964


MANON {205}

Manon...................Jean Fenn
Des Grieux..............Nicolai Gedda
Lescaut.................Frank Guarrera
Count des Grieux........Ezio Flagello
Guillot.................Mariano Caruso
Brétigny................William Walker
Poussette...............Jeanette Scovotti
Javotte.................Marcia Baldwin
Rosette.................Joann Grillo
Innkeeper...............Robert Patterson
Guard...................Charles Kuestner
Guard...................Carlo Tomanelli
Maid....................Athena Vicos
Sergeant................William Stanz
Dance...................Craig Crosson
Dance...................Carole Kroon [Last performance]
Dance...................Hans Meister
Dance...................Ali Pourfarrokh [Last performance]

Conductor...............Thomas Schippers

Review of Jay Carr in the Detroit News

Met's 'Manon' a Series of Hits, Misses, Near-Misses

Like Porgy's Bess, "Manon" is a sometime thing. Massenet's masterpiece which was presented by the Metropolitan Opera last night at Masonic Temple, is a fragile, delicate work, sweetly voluptuous and as fragrantly scented as a June evening. The sugary score demands atmosphere, style and, above all, finesse. Otherwise it stands in serious danger of being trampled to death. It got precious little of these qualities last night, just enough to indicate what might have been.

SHORT ON MASTERY

Manon, the luxury-loving lass, was portrayed by Jean Fenn. Miss Fenn's tone isn't what you'd call sensuous. And shading and nuance are problems she can approach only after she first masters the outlines of the role, which she hasn't yet done. But her lack of confidence and poise is understandable and, considering the circumstances under which she sang last night, entirely excusable.

The only time she had done the role before was last week in Minneapolis. Then, as now, she was filling in on short notice for the ailing Anna Moffo. Miss Fenn didn't do badly for only a second try. It's easy to forgive her for almost being drowned out by the prompter during the "Adieu, notre petite table" aria in Act 2 and if many of her arias were forced, it's understandable.

GAINS ASSURANCE

But it wasn't all patchwork. Miss Fenn did react and seem to gain a little assurance from the third act on. Her aria in the seminary didn't seem so strained and neither did her final adieu to life. When the lady has time to refine the role, she'd do well to look to her French diction.

But for that matter so would the whole cast, except for Nicolai Gedda.Gedda, a practiced hand in the role of Manon's Chevalier, not only provided the best diction, but the best vocalism as well. His French, spoken and sung, is a pleasure to hear. It betokens long and careful study of the correct intonation and manner of turning or clipping a phrase.

FINE LESCAUT

He's a full-voiced tenor, can sing with admirable ease and cuts a handsome figure to boot. His "Ah! Fuyez" was the evening's high point, but Gedda had no trouble slipping from that aria's ringing notes to a caressing tone when it was necessary.

Histrionically, Frank Guarrera was a fine Lescaut, capturing the character's engaging bluster perfectly. But there was continually present an uncomfortable tremolo in his voice. Vocally, Ezio Flagello was a strong Count Des Grieux. Guarrera's soupy Provencal dialect was credible in Lescaut, but Flagello's wasn't in Des Greiux, who's supposed to be a Parisian noble. Mariano Caruso was helpful in the character role of Guillot, the doddering roué.

FORTISSIMO FROM PIT

In the pit, Thomas Schippers' ability to supercharge a score was a dubious asset. Several times he overwhelmed the singers and the fragility of the music was occasionally unable to withstand his forte attacks. Alicia Markova's ballet was a nicely wrought piece of work, far better than some of the gyrations that have passed for ballet at the Met in recent seasons.

The pastel-hued sets ranged from serviceable to charming in the case of the country inn. There was one exception, though. The Paris apartment of the second act, with its shocking pink walls and woebegone attempt at baroque drapery, looked like a Miami Beach motel manager's conception of heaven.



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