First in the air is Puccini's Manon Lescaut, the shattering story of an innocent young woman pushed and pimped into society, lured from love by the promise of riches, and vilified when she turns against her wealthy benefactor.
Based on a 1731 novel by Prévost, Manon Lescaut was the opera that made the name of the up-and-coming composer Giacomo Puccini when it was premiered in Turin in 1893. Prévost's Manon is in some ways the female equivalent of her exact contemporary, Hogarth's Rake – innocent, malleable, flawed. And in Puccini's hands she becomes the prototype of his many disillusioned heroines, from La Bohème's Mimì and Tosca to Madama Butterfly, Cio-Cio San.
Set in Amiens, Paris, Le Havre, and, finally, Louisiana, the opera has big horizons, musically and dramatically, and is packed with Puccini's instantly memorable music.
Soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn returns to Opera Holland Park to sing the title role: an OHP favourite, she appeared as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (2011) and as Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte (2012) before singing Magda in Puccini's La Rondine in 2017.
Her brother Lescaut, who introduces her to a more lavish lifestyle, is sung by baritone Paul Carey Jones. Peter Auty sings the impoverished nobleman Des Grieux, with Stephen Richardson as Geronte di Ravoir, the older, wealthier man she leaves for love.
Peter Robinson conducts the City of London Sinfonia and Chorus of Opera Holland Park. European Opera prize-winner Karolina Sofulak directs. Design is by George Leigh, with choreography by Tim Claydon.
Three of OHP's four productions this year are by Italian composers. We may become detached from the rest of Europe, but we'll always have the music...
'Manon Lescaut' is sung in Italian with English surtitles. There is a pre-opera talk on 11 June at 5.45PM, by Dr Alexandra Wilson, author of 'The Puccini Problem: Opera, Nationalism, and Modernity'
|What||Manon Lescaut, Opera Holland Park|
|Where||Opera Holland Park, Stable Yard, Holland Park, London , W8 6LU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||High Street Kensington (underground)|
04 Jun 19 – 22 Jun 19, eight performances
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|