In Manon Lescaut, Puccini envisioned above all a great love story with a tragic ending of grandiose despair on one hand, and on the other we should not overlook other layer of meaning, such as a woman’s ambition for social advancement and freedom of choice. Adapting a story with those characteristics today, meant finding a way to make it feel modern. And, how do you make Manon Lescaut a modern heroine? The truth is that today reality is in constant change. One example is in the most disadvantaged countries, people have begun walking and migrating across sandy deserts and dangerous seas, seeking dignity, freedom, and survival.
Manon Lescaut is in this version, an undocumented immigrant. She could come from anywhere in the world, for reasons such as poverty, war, mistreatment, or social degradation. Or she might also come because she is simply attracted by the illusion of prosperity that Europe can offer. In the midst of Puccini’s story, a modern dramaturgy allows the audience to discover a new way of interpreting his character. Manon Lescaut dies this time as the victim of a dehumanisation capable of calcining any landscape and turning anything into a desert, a desert made of love.