The ravishingly sung production of Massenet's Manon at the Lyric Opera is great theater. This production from the English National Opera, with the French superstar Natalie Dessay, treats the opera as a play within a play, heightening the melodramatic mechanisms of the familiar plot (Puccini used the same story for his "Manon Lescaut"), and transcends them as the onstage heat bursts out of its mini-theatrical confines. Thoughtfully, inventively staged and beautifully designed, this was a memorable afternoon at the opera. A classy season opener for the Lyric.
Rating: ****1/2 (out of *****)