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Portrait de Manon, Le (Boyer / Massenet)




Opéra comique in 1 act premiered at the Opéra-Comique (Paris) on 8 May 1894. 


“Like a pastel drawing of a painting, but one done by the painter himself” (in the words of Massenet’s biographer, Schneider), Le Portrait de Manon is intended as a pastiche sequel to  the composer’s masterpiece. Des Grieux is now 40. Lost in his thoughts, he takes a miniature portrait of  Manon from a box. Jean, an orphan under his protection, tells him about his love for Aurore. But Des Grieux, determined to protect Jean from the torments of love, refuses to give permission to this marriage. After coming across the famous miniature, Aurore appears to Des Grieux dressed as Manon when they first met in Amiens. Deeply moved, Des Grieux agrees to the marriage of the young couple and discovers that Aurore is the daughter of Sergeant Lescaut and Manon’s niece. Setting a libretto by Georges Boyer (author of the poem Biblis and of pantomimes and scènes lyriques set to music by Gounod, Thomas and Saint-Saëns), Massenet wrote tender, graceful music with several recurring phrases from Manon.The composition of this work was “an exquisite distraction” for Massenet, as it came shortly after Thaïs. But although the work is often regarded as a mere trifle, the score is consistent from start to finish, the vocal writing highly sophisticated and the recurrence of themes from Manon treated with a skill that will delight listeners. Written initially for small theatres in spa towns, the work was premiered at the Opéra-Comique, probably to make amends for the damage done by withdrawing Thaïs. Revived at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in the same year, then travelling across the Atlantic in 1897, Le Portrait de Manon was only performed a handful of times after the composer’s death. 

    Images - 4
  • Suzanne Dumesnil et Rachel Launay dans Le Portrait de Manon (Massenet)
  • Couverture du piano-chant du Portrait de Manon (Boyer / Massenet)
  • Page de titre du piano-chant d'Il ritratto di Manon (Massenet)
  • Page de titre du piano-chant du Portrait de Manon (Boyer / Massenet)
  • Libretto - 1
  • Portrait de Manon, Le [mise en scène]
  • Work - 1
  • Manon (Gille & Meilhac / Massenet)
  • Persons - 2
  • BOYER, Georges (1850-1931)
  • MASSENET, Jules (1842-1912)