024) French for Opera-Lovers: Jules Massenet's Manon

Manon, Jules Massenet’s masterpiece, epitomizes French Romanticism: In itself a landmark in Romantic Opera, Manon is based on Abbé Prévost’s novel, a harbinger of the Romantic genre in European literature—a tale of the irresistible, archetypal heroine who is incapable of choosing between love and luxury.

In this course, we will view a production on video starring Natalie Dessay, the greatest French singer of our time; listen to historical recordings, including those of Beverly Sills, Ninon Vallin, Nicolai Gedda, and Enrico Caruso; and read key excerpts from Prévost’s novel, to better understand their transformation onto the operatic stage.

The use of bilingual (French-English) libretti and literary excerpts will enable advanced students to further their reading skills, while providing beginners with an authentic context for basic language instruction.  There is an optional class trip to the Metropolitan Opera’s highly acclaimed production.

TEXT: All required texts will be supplied by the instructor. Recommended: Manon—3 CD boxed set, with libretto (EMI Classics, 2008); Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut (L’Histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut); Pronounce it Perfectly in French: With Audio CDs, 3rd Edition (Barron’s, 2013); Barron’s French-English Pocket Dictionary (Barron’s Educational Series, 2015).