Into the looking glass
The libretto of Manon is probably one of the best constructed in the opera repertoire. Massenet was a man of theatre and he made sure that Meilhac & Gille wrote a book that was faithful to the spirit of l’Abbé Prévost’s novel and would allow him to bring forward musically the ideas of Le style Français.
The fact that Manon has not been presented in Scotland in over 80 years made it part of our choice to keep the production in its 18th century context.
Where we decided to be less literal and realistic is in the way we chose to accentuate in the set design the psychological aspect of the main character.
Like many girls of her age, she dreams of a better life both materialistically and emotionally. Never satisfied she continuously aspires to more. She is not a conniving lady, although totally sincere and candid, her instincts lead her to flickering desires.
We used the metaphor of mirrors to accentuate the reflection of a society, not unlike ours, where pretending is more important than being.
The bright future of this young girl is shattered by the paths she chooses to take. As her short life is going through this incredible journey the mirror cracks upon her and the society she tried to emulate.
With the social and economic events that our western world going thru since the beginning of the new millennium, the story of Manon Lescaut is more than ever relevant.