Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Manon's Des Grieux - Matthew Polenzani

Tonight at the Royal Opera House, Jules Massenet Manon, in its first revival, with the divine Ermonela Jaho as Manon asnd Matthew Polenzani as the Chevalier des Grieux. Together they sang the parts in this same production in Milan in 2012. He sang it with Anna Netrebko when the ROH toured Japan in 2010.

"Even though he has done the part several times, each new run is unique because dynamics change with different casts. “Anna and Ermonela are both fabulously beautiful, but they have different personalities and different voices. And this time, I’m also singing with Ailyn Pérez in the last few performances in this run. I’ve worked with her before, too, so I know her sentiments about Manon. It’s good to make changes with different singers at different times, it keeps things interesting. A director can’t just tell a singer ’in bar 52, walk stage left’. You need to be able to work with each other so it feels natural”.

“I gravitate towards Massenet. Des Grieux is good to sing because he touches a lot of things that are important to me in my life. He’s an honest guy, and he’s moved by his heart. I was just talking to Christian Rath, Pelly’s associate director, about how Des Grieux’s feelings work. Soon after they meet he calls her ‘Enchanteresse’. He’s no longer master of himself. Then, in the seminary, he wants to place God between himself and the world, but goes off with Manon when she turns up. He calls her “Sphinx etonnant… que je t’aime et te hais”. He’s not taking responsibility for himself, he lets himself be manipulated because he won’t own up to what happens. A part of me understands that youthfulness, yet as a father myself, although my sons are much younger, I can understand how his father feels. The Comte wants what’s best for his son, and what’s good for the family, but sons are headstrong”. 

Read the full interview with Matthew Polenzani in Opera Today.
Read my interview with Ermonela Jaho HERE
Read my interview with Laurent Pelly HERE
Read my review of the London premiere HERE.

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