Llewellyn triumphs over adversity in Puccini's Manon Lescaut

9th June 2019

Despite recovering from laryngitis only the week before opening night, Elizabeth produced a fine performance which impressed critics and audiences alike. 

 

“The announcement pre-curtain that soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn had only recently recovered from laryngitis was inauspicious, and Llewellyn understandably played it safe at first. But, when in the latter stages, reassured that her voice would hold out, she relaxed and released a wonderfully expressive and dramatic flood of glorious colour, the wait was proven more than worthwhile. In fact, the slight frailty at the start was not inapt, capturing as it did some of the innocence of the young Manon (especially as she is not presented here as a young girl being escorted to a convent), and the blossoming of Llewellyn’s soprano in the final two Acts communicated the maturity and growth borne of Manon’s experiences. Llewellyn exploited the full range of her soprano, including a rich chest voice, encompassing a vast emotional spectrum and sensitively capturing Manon’s femininity. As Manon finds herself at the limits of her resilience, so Llewellyn pushed her soprano to its limits, though never sacrificing her creamily smooth legato, with compelling power and effect. As her voice recovers fully, Llewellyn’s performance will be a persuasive reason to see this production.” (Opera Today)

Star-quality comes at last with the elegant and slightly sphinx-like presence of Llewellyn's Manon, and a bit of moonshine in her first meeting with Des Grieux;…Llewellyn is perfectly poised and now in near-vintage voice.”

The Artsdesk) 

“…her big aria, ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’, proved very moving as well as vocally strong, belying recent illness. Her gorgeous, soft grained timbre is a conventional fit for the character.” (Classical Source)

“The redeeming feature of the evening was Elizabeth Llewellyn’s kittenish Manon, sung with a stylistic delicacy and refinement of phrasing.” (The Telegraph)

“Llewellyn, once she hits the home straight and knows that her voice will go the distance, gives full rein to her powerful soprano that never loses the crucial fragility it requires to illustrate Manon's disastrous decision making.”

(Broadway World)

“Elizabeth Llewellyn also reaches her peak after the interval, her voice blossoming to the full. Throughout, she phrases with artistry and fleshes out Manon’s mercurial, sometimes enigmatic character.” (The Stage)

Photographs by Robert Workman

“Llewellyn is moving into more spinto roles, and she was effortless in the role's demands, producing some wonderfully shaped phrases. She had been announced as having been ill, with her presence at the performance in doubt, but in the event she gave us a truly remarkable performance.(Planet Hugill)

 

“Elizabeth Llewellyn has an exciting voice for Puccini, silvery and vital.” (The Guardian)

“Elizabeth Llewellyn’s glamorous Manon at Opera Holland Park… even recent laryngitis couldn’t dampen the beauty and warmth of her singing.” (Sunday Times)

“… the singers sound heavenly. Elizabeth Llewellyn (Manon) has a gloriously rich and full tone.(Metro)

“Go for some wonderful singing from two excellent principals: Elizabeth Llewellyn, despite laryngitis, in fine voice as Manon; Peter Auty gives Des Grieux his usual style and panache. Their duets would have raised the roof if OHP’s big tent had one.” (Mail on Sunday)

"Llewellyn’s vivacious woman-child Manon... is ermine and pearls, soft but deliciously heavy in the ear. (The Spectator)

"Treading a careful vocal line following her recovery from a throat infection, Llewellyn nevertheless established that her peaches-and-cream soprano and generous phrasing are ideal casting." (Financial Times)

“Elizabeth Llewellyn unquestionably did what she could to have one care about Manon and her plight. If the character remains unsatisfactory, that is in no way to be attributed to Llewellyn, whose typically intelligent, sympathetic performance rose far above the vocal difficulties recent laryngitis occasionally revealed.(Boulezian)

"Although her voice clearly hadn’t completely recovered, it’s a terrific instrument, brightly coloured, expressive and rich. There were times when, for obvious reasons, she seemed to take the music cautiously, but by the second half she had regained confidence and the voice seemed in near pristine condition. Llewellyn is one of those performers so naturally elegant on stage that she imbues her heroines with a certain noble grace, even as she is lined up in Act 3 as a sex slave.” (Bachtrack)

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