Massenet's Manon, November 4-22, 2017

San Francisco Opera Presents New Production of Massenet's Manon, November 4–22

Release date: 10/20/2017    


Patrick Fournillier, Conductor; Vincent Boussard, Director

Role Debuts of Ellie Dehn as Manon and Michael Fabiano as Des Grieux

Manon Insight Panel Discussion With Cast and Creative Team at Taube Atrium Theater, November 1

MANON.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera presents six performances of Jules Massenet's Manon at the War Memorial Opera House November 4–22. One of the composer’s most enduring and sensuous works, Manon returns to the Company’s repertory after a 19-year hiatus in a new production by French director Vincent Boussard, which is a co-production with Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Israeli Opera. Soprano Ellie Dehn and tenor Michael Fabiano make highly anticipated role debuts as Manon and Chevalier des Grieux. French conductor and Massenet specialist Patrick Fournillier leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Ian Robertson prepares the Company’s Opera Chorus.

Last performed by San Francisco Opera in 1998, Massenet’s romantic opera, which follows the ascent and fall of a beautiful and capricious young woman, returns in a new staging by the director whose production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi was presented at San Francisco Opera in 2012 and is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray. Boussard’s theatrical interpretation of Manon, for which he also designed the costumes, was proclaimed “a collaborative work of brilliance” by The Baltic Times at its 2016 Lithuanian premiere. The production features sets designed by frequent Boussard collaborator Vincent Lemaire and lighting by Gary Marder.

Boussard noted: “As a director, I try to create bridges between periods of time to make the story seem more immediate. I am led by the quality of the music and the singing. We’re trying to build bridges between the time of the story (the beginning of the 18th century) and the time of Massenet (1884) and now. I’m trying to give the character of Manon a chance to be imagined and received by the audience as if she could also be a lady of today.”

Ellie Dehn thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences last summer in what the San Francisco Chronicle called a “sumptuous, sparkling turn as the sexually irresistible Musetta” in Puccini’s La Bohème. In her sixth leading role with the Company, the American soprano takes on Manon for the first time. In another exciting role debut, internationally-acclaimed American tenor Michael Fabiano, who was recently praised by the New York Times for his “sensitive, vibrant lyric tenor,” adds the role of Chevalier des Grieux to his expanding repertory. Known for his portrayals of Italian roles such as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème and the title role of Verdi’s Don Carlo, Des Grieux will be his first French role with San Francisco Opera.

The cast for Manon also features baritone David Pershall as Manon’s cousin Lescaut, bass James Creswell as Comte des Grieux, baritone Timothy Mix as the wealthy De Brétigny and tenor Robert Brubaker as Guillot de Morfontaine. Soprano Monica Dewey makes her Company debut as Pousette, mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm is Javotte and mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier is Rosette.

A longtime champion of Massenet’s music, Patrick Fournillier conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The French conductor made his Company debut leading Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac in 2010 and returned in 2013 to conduct a new production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

San Francisco Opera first produced Manon at the Civic Auditorium in 1924 during the Company’s second season. San Francisco Opera founder Gaetano Merola conducted a cast headed by Greek soprano Thalia Sabanieva and Italian tenor Tito Schipa. The latter scored a historic success on opening night and was compelled to repeat Des Grieux’s “Le Rêve,” or dream aria, in response to a thunderous ovation. Casts in later seasons featured luminaries such as sopranos Bidú Sayão, Grace Moore, Leyla Gencer, Beverly Sills, Sheri Greenawald and Ruth Ann Swenson. The list of tenors who performed Des Grieux with the Company includes Beniamino Gigli, Nicolai Gedda, Francisco Araiza and Jerry Hadley.

Sung in French with English supertitles, the six performances of Manon are scheduled for November 4 (7:30 p.m.), November 7 (7:30 p.m.), November 10 (7:30 p.m.), November 16 (7:30 p.m.), November 19 (2 p.m.) and November 22 (7:30 p.m.), 2017.

Manon Insight Panel, November 1

Get a rare glimpse into the creative process as the cast and creative team share insights about the process of bringing Manon to life. Hear directly from the artists in an illuminating, moderated panel discussion that will be followed by a Q&A session. The Insight Panel will take place on Wednesday, November 1 from 6:30–7:30 p.m. in the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. Presented by San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild, the Insight Panel is free to members and subscribers, and students with a valid student ID; $5 for general public admission. Visit for more information.

*For the complete press release, including cast and calendar listings, please view the attached PDF.