Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: MANON at Opera Wroclaw

Review: MANON at Opera Wroclaw

A true coup de foudre!

Manon has it all. Great duets, splendor, fantastic music, great scenography, perfect choir, and harmonious choreographies. This opera comique from the 19th century has a big come back after 40 years of absence on polish scenes, last production in Wroclaw took place 122 years ago! Massent is back and it's very thrilling.

Opera comique doesn't have to be particularly funny, in this kind of spectacle we can witness a variety of colors of life, jokes mixed with severity, and even a tragedy. We got to see characters that are not black and white, they are changing, evaluating and a spectator cannot say for sure if a figure is good or bad, they are complex human beings, full of emotions (and drama, yey!).

Two main parts: Manon and Dex Grieux are performed by impeccable Simone Mihai and Charles Castronovo. It's strongly electric between the two of them, they have this subtle connection and when they do the duets it sparks. She is complex (even the word complex is not big enough), she transforms so many times, and Simone Mihai expresses it in an irreproachable way. When we first met Manon she's gentle, vulnerable, sensitive, and kind of surrounded because, after all, she is a young woman going to a convent. When she decides to escape she's opening her can of worms. Then she's in love, she's torn, inquisitive, and ends up as a strong and compelling woman. She's all of that and even though she evaluates a lot she's very true in each of her stages. Her emotions are extremely sincere, thanks to Simone we can witness it with a huge dose of empathy. The artist made us live it in a very intensive way. Dex Grieux is madly in love and his desire for her makes him do all sorts of things (including becoming a priest and abandoning it sometime later). It ends up pretty badly but he's also real in every step he takes. This duo is stunning.

And there is much more! Did you know that director, Waldemar Zawodzinski graduated not only from the National Academy of Theatre Arts but also from the Academy of Fine Arts? His love for picturesque pictures shows off on the stage. He's responsible not only for directing but also for stage design and lighting so everything we see is consistent and extremely elegant. There are carriages, a theater interior, a living sculpture, rural blast, city buzz, passing atmosphere of church silence, the intense power of an energetic casino, and the destructive power of love. Scenes are changing very fast and they are authentic. Lights are a perfect addition to the show, not overwhelming but a great part of the atmosphere. There are also amazing costumes (by Maria Balcerek), the choir is not a background but an active participant of the set, and group scenes are perfectly correlating. Janina Niesobska choreographed the show with amazing precision and swing.

Music is very vital and reminds me a little bit of a musical which I love! There is no pomposity, the scene in a town looks a little like a Disney scene, and Profitons bien de la jeunesse with great scene movement and wonderful energy became one of my favorite musical pieces of all time. There are also mélodrames (non-sung parts accompanied by an orchestra) which are not often in opera but bring this musical vibe to the show.

There are other characters worth mentioning like Lescaut (amazing Szymon Mechlinski), an irreproachable sensitive trio of Canan Kalkir, Aleksandra Opala, and Dorota Dutkowska, or sophisticated Grzegorz Szostak as Count Dex Grieux.

This opera has no bad sides and it's a great opportunity to see this forgotten but incredible piece in Opera of Wroclaw. The momentum with which it was created delights in absolutely every scene. It feels like for three hours you are inside of glitter globe and you are surrounded by floating sparkles all around. Pure heaven.

Photo: T. Golla




From This Author - Natalia Jarczynska


Review: MANON at Opera Wroclaw
July 21, 2022

What did our critic think of MANON at Opera Wroclaw? Manon has it all. Great duets, splendor, fantastic music, great scenography, perfect choir, and harmonious choreographies. This opera comique from the 19th century has a big come back after 40 years of absence on polish scenes, last production in Wroclaw took place 122 years ago! Massent is back and it’s very thrilling.

BWW Review: MADAME BUTTERFLY at Opera Wroclaw
June 20, 2022

If you want to witness the materialization of the word beauty, see this show. With thrilling voices, amazing Puccini music, and vital presentation this opera will lead you straight to musical heaven.

BWW Review: THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at Opera Wroclaw
June 2, 2022

This opera buffa composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the piece produced by the Wrocław Opera as part of the Opera Of The Young program after Don Giovanni and Cossi Fan Tutte. Director André Heller-Lopes put on a very classic show with superb set design by Renato Theobaldo. It is red and gold, intense, full of depth and density of the castle rooms. In the final act, the castle turns into ruby wood. Still magnificent. Kerosene lamps arranged around the revolving stage added 100 points to the charm of the scenography.

BWW Review: CINDERELLA at Opera Wroclaw
May 23, 2022

We all know the fairytale where a bullied girl led by her kindness and magic transforms herself into a princess and finds her happily ever after in the prince’s arms. How to make it interesting and funny? Opera in Wroclaw knows how to do it.

BWW Review: LIPS SEALED at Teatr Wspolczesny Wroclaw
May 12, 2022

Theater has to be on display and expose vulnerability, that extremely fragile part of your being that we hide day after day from society, the people around us, and even ourselves. In the new show, Teatr Wspolczesny Wroclaw does it in a modern and interesting way.