“As Manon, the soprano Kristine Opolais sounded as glamorous as she looked . . . Ms. Opolais’s Manon is overcome with attraction to des Grieux, feelings that unfold in the radiant warmth and sultry ardor of her singing during their romantic exchanges. But she also subtly reveals Manon’s desperation: a young woman whose father seems to have come on hard times is destined for a convent, yet quivering with desire . . .

Mr. Alagna’s des Grieux, appearing haggard yet crazed with love, bursts impulsively into Geronte’s apartment where he finds his Manon, Ms. Opolais looking like Lana Turner with blonde locks and a sequined dress. The two singers were at their most inspired during the confrontational love duet at the core of this act. The betrayed Geronte summons German soldiers to arrest Manon, who is caught trying to leave with des Grieux, her hands loaded with jewelry . . . these two tenacious artists did their finest, most emotional singing of the night during this tragic final scene. Ms. Opolais brought anguished beauty to the grim aria “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” (“Alone, lost and forsaken”).”

Anthony Tommasini – The New York Times

“Ms. Opolais brought more vocal subtlety and sex appeal to Manon, the country girl whose taste for love is outweighed only by her longing for luxury. With its wide range of theatrical colors, her soprano turned from sweetness to earthy, voluptuous seductiveness in an instant, and the naked terror of her Act IV death scene, “Sola, perduta, abbandonata,” was mesmerizing.”

Heidi Waleson – Wall Street Journal

“. . . the principal actors were in fact able to carve stunningly real portrayals. Opolais . . . was devastating to watch in her final moments in Act IV. Her account of the celebrated aria “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” was uncommonly penetrating, a violent struggle for life. Where earlier her singing was mostly light and clear, in this final aria she was desperate, seemingly gasping for breath and sending shivers down the spine with a bristling chest voice.”

Eric C. Simpson – New York Classical Review

“Kristine Opolais makes the title character’s brain-melting magnetism easy to understand: If you were in love with someone who could sing like that, you too might follow her from provincial France to the Louisiana, um, desert . . . Opolais’s vocal glamour shines through the dinginess and gloom . . .”

Justin Davidson – Vulture

“Opolais managed to make the tragic heroine both voluptuous and vulnerable, also properly magnetic and pathetic. She even dared sing softly on occasion. Her sweet soprano pulsed with a slight vibrato . . .”

Martin Bernheimer – Financial Times

“Puccini poured passion, longing, and despair into the score, and Opolais and Alagna deliver excellent performances that bring out every nuance. Their duets are tender and touching, and each shines in individual arias, Opolais especially in her second act “In quelle trine morbide” and her final “Sola, perduta, abandonata” . . .”

Wilborn Hampton – Huffington Post

“Ms. Opolais is an experienced Manon Lescaut . . . she has great stage presence and uses her vocal resources effectively to create a complicated heroine. Her voice was even throughout its registers and opened up easily into penetrating high notes. Manon Lescaut is not so much a continuous narrative as a vignette, condensed in four moments of her life. The transition from an ingénue to a wealthy man’s mistress, to a condemned and finally dying woman is abrupt and the audience is asked to imagine missing parts of the story. Ms Opolais inhabited the character in her various guises, and was especially memorable as a bored, yet coquettish, courtesan and seducer in Act II and a genuinely sorrowful repentant in Act IV. Her desperate cry of anguish in her death scene was most heartfelt . . . Ms. Opolais and Mr. Alagna sang movingly and passionately.”

Ako Imamura – Bachtrack.com

“Act II is stuffed to the gills with details showing who Manon really is. In her “glitter and be gay” moment, soprano Opolais cut a gorgeous figure–as the kept woman of Geronte, who Prévost described as a “tax collector,” a petty bureaucrat, but comes off as older, but still suave here. She was also a Susan Alexander Kane-like (the would-be opera singer wife of Citizen Kane) character, performing for guests like a trained pet. Puccini’s Madama Butterfly might be a better role for her, but Opolais looked and sounded wonderful, from her entrance in Act I (though I’m not sure anyone can really pull off that schoolgirl thing in Act I) to her hushed, poignant singing in “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” before she expires in Act IV.”

Richard Sasanow – BroadwayWorld

“Of course, there’s the stunning Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, who has become one of the world’s foremost Puccini interpreters, playing the title role.

Ms. Opolais was in excellent form on Friday evening, and she brought a raw vulnerability to Manon’s transformation from innocent teen to femme fatale to desperate woman.”

Bryan Buttler – PhillyMag.com

“Opolais, one of the most beautiful women in opera, looked fittingly glamorous in Acts I and II and appropriately beleaguered in Acts III and IV . . . Her best work was an admirable “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” in Act IV, delivered with conviction despite a mise-en-scène that placed the death scene in what looked like the ruins of Geronte’s house.”

David Shengold – Opera News

“She is portrayed by the Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais . . . Opolais certainly has the voice for the role. She also has the striking physical glamour required . . . the singers managed to rally vocally and both delivered heartbreaking performances. Opolais was absolutely stellar in her big aria, “Sola, perduta, abbandonata.”

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs – TheaterJones

Image: Ken Howard for The Metropolitan Opera