Music: Manon as It Should Be

Massenet's Manon is a French opera of more refined and delicate charms than Puccini's booming, Italianate Manon Lescaut, although both are based on the same Abbé Prevost novel. It is a big opera, but for best effect it needs a production with the intimacy of opéra comique—one reason it has never been much more than a singers' showpiece at the Metropolitan (last performance: 1948). Last week, as the only new production of the New York City Opera's spring season, Massenet's Manon got the kind of performance it calls for.

In the comparatively compact City...

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