RAVE REVIEWS FOR MANON LESCAUT – Through April 29th at the Academy!

“… singers and orchestra rocked — and that included the young replacement soprano Michelle Johnson, who learned the title role in little more than three weeks.”
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

The first reviews are in on the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s Manon Lescaut!

 “For the first time in twenty-five years, the Opera Company of Philadelphia has mounted a production of Puccini’s first great opera, Manon Lescaut. The result was an inspired testament to thoughtful direction by Michael Cavanagh, gorgeous sets and costumes by John Pascoe, and several winning performances.”
“… [Michelle Johnson’s] singing has magnetic immediacy thanks to clean vocal lines and word coloring that made her singing speak in beautifully formed musical sentences, similar to young Renata Tebaldi.”
- The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Brazilian tenor Thiago Arancam owned the role of Des Grieux, which is arguably the most difficult tenor role Puccini ever wrote. Beginning with “Donna non vidi mai,” his arias soared with power and emotional intensity, his top notes ringing throughout the Academy.”

"A night of exquisite conducting, top-drawer costumes, passion and punch..."

"[Thiago Arancam] is a sexy guy on stage, with a voice both pleasant and intriguing, mostly due to its unusually dark color—a quality often thought to signal grand heroic potential."

“The performance catalyst was conductor Corrado Rovaris: Like the Italian maestros of the early 20th century, his Puccini has a strong pulse and no gratuitous prettiness. The orchestral playing was first class.”
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Brazilian tenor Thiago Arancam (seen last season as Cavaradossi in ‘Tosca’) acted dramatically and sang excitingly as the Chevalier des Grieux, the young man who succumbs to Manon’s fatal charms.”
-The Chestnut Hill Local

“I can’t remember seeing a grander set on stage at the Philadelphia Academy of Music that was at the same time versatile and flexible… Pascoe costumed a huge cast, in period—from lace ascots and handkerchiefs to green velvet suits with knickers to Manon’s brocade robe and gilded gowns—and the total effect was marvelous.”

"Johnson moved well and sang quite well, infusing a basically exquisite instrument with quite enough passion and punch to make her a wholly believable Puccini heroine. Her powerhouse moments filled the Academy of Music with throbbing, rich sound; and her soft, limpid singing was gorgeous enough to almost make you forgive Manon’s hard core of greed. The Act IV death scene found Johnson both stunning and soulful."

“The two baritones were excellent, Troy Cook as Manon’s brother, and especially Daniel Mobbs as her sugar daddy, who told you all you needed to know just by the way he moved.”
-The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Music director Corrado Rovaris was largely in his element in this fast-moving score, with the orchestra responding brilliantly—better than I have ever heard them—in moments such as the police raid at the end of Act II."

“Johnson was utterly convincing in the act that chronicles her character’s death, her performance a tour de force…  Everyone in the audience was treated to an artistic feat of unparalleled significance for a rising opera star.”

Praise for "... music director Corrado Rovaris’ exquisite conducting. Known in Santa Fe for steerings of Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra,” Puccini’s “La bohème” and Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” Rovaris is a thoroughgoing musician who always knows his scores inside and out, and also knows what he wants to do with them. Even better, he knows what his cast can do, and has the admirable (and rare) ability to persuade them to do more than they think they can. He never forgets that opera is about feeling and drama as well as music and singing..."


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