Artist Of The Week: Irina Lungu Delves Into Massenet’s ‘Manon’

By Francisco Salazar

Massenet’s “Manon” is known as the pinnacle of the lyric soprano repertoire. It is a massive five-act grand opera that showcases a soprano’s vocal fireworks as well the dramatic potential. And this week, Irina Lungu will take on the role for the first time at the Bilbao Opera.

Lungu’s assumption of “Manon” is the culmination of what has been two seasons of numerous roles and house debuts. With “Manon,” she takes on her first French opera since 2017 when she sang Juliette in “Romeo et Juliette” at the Audi Festival in Germany. But unlike Juliette, Lungu gets the whole night taking on one of the most complex characters in opera. She will be joined by Michael Fabiano, who recently made his role debut as Des Grieux in San Francisco and will be conducted by Alain Guingal.

Over the past years, Lungu has become one of the most celebrated sopranos of her generation, performing all around the world and specializing in the Bel canto and Italian lyric repertoire. This season she takes on the role of “Lucia di Lammermoor” in Norway and returns to her acclaimed “Anna Bolena” in Verona. She also makes her highly anticipated house debut at Los Angeles where she will take on her signature role as Gilda in “Rigoletto.”


For those not familiar with Lungu’s work, she has numerous acclaimed DVDs and CDs. There are two Carmen recordings, one from the Arena di Verona with Ekaterina Semenchuck and the other from Sferisterio with Nino Surguladze. There is also a recording of “Faust” from the Teatro Regio di Torino with Charles Castronovo and Ildar Abdrazakov.


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