Monday, July 10, 2017

Voices Are Different

Ellie Dehn
Photo: Victoria Janashvili
Courtesy of San Francisco Opera

From San Francisco Opera comes news of a cast change, for the fall's Manon:
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 10, 2017) — San Francisco Opera today announced a cast change for Jules Massenet’s Manon, opening November 4 and running for six performances through November 22, 2017. American soprano Ellie Dehn will essay her role debut as Manon, one of the most enticing heroines of the French repertory, replacing Nadine Sierra who has withdrawn. Sierra said her decision to leave the production was “an extremely difficult one to make, but after considerable deliberation I realized the role was simply too heavy at this point in my vocal development.”
Ellie Dehn thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences earlier this summer as Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème in what the San Francisco Chronicle called a “sumptuous, sparkling turn as the sexually irresistible Musetta—her Act 2 rendition of the showpiece ‘Quando me’n vo’ was as joyous and witty as ever.” She joins a Manon cast, which also features star tenor Michael Fabiano in his highly anticipated role debut as Chevalier des Grieux, that returns this Belle Epoque gem to the Company’s repertory after a 19-year absence in a new production directed by Vincent Boussard and conducted by Massenet specialist Patrick Fournillier. Dehn is excited to add Manon to her repertory and has already made plans to visit Paris and the Church of Saint-Sulpice as part of her preparation. She said, "It's an honor to take on Manon for the wonderful audiences in San Francisco. I look forward to bringing this iconic role to life next season."
I hadn't thought of Manon as a heavy role relative to those Sierra has already sung (Nozze Countess, Lucia, upcoming Musetta), but I also see from her schedule that her next Nozze appearance is as Susanna, which is the role I would think a natural for her. Whatever; she and her teachers know her voice best and this kind of decision is up to them.

This cast change cheers me up, too! I liked Sierra a lot as Papagena, and thought her good, not great, as Lucia. But Ellie Dehn has been the high point of two of the three productions I've seen her in: a witty and scene-stealing Musetta, twice, and a smartly sung Micaela in Carmen. So I'm happy to see her get center stage as Manon.

Scene from Manon
Photo: Martynas Aleksa/Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Courtesy of San Francisco Opera

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