Puccini’s first triumph returns to Covent Garden for the first time in 20 years in a new staging by Jonathan Kent. The exciting Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais sings the title role. A consummate Puccini soprano, Opolais caused a sensation as Madama Butterfly in 2011, and with Manon Lescaut, the bold but impressionable heroine, we will see a very different side of her. She is matched in star power by Jonas Kaufmann as her lover, Des Grieux, and Christopher Maltman as her cynical brother Lescaut. Kent’s vision of a young girl who faces temptation in the big city will surely resonate with today’s audience.
Belle star Gugu Mbatha-Raw is marvellous as the extraordinary young singer who is propelled in to a roller-coaster career in pop by her ambitious mother (Minnie Driver). The movie chronicles how the music industry remakes Noni in its own highly sexualized image, but suggests (with an element of wish fulfillment) that there is a way out, and true love can save the day.
"Magnificent ... On its surface [it] seems to be a candy-colored pop fantasy about the love between a beautiful hip-hop superstar and a hunky cop. To be fair, it’s not not that. But how bracing today to have a film that’s at once fun, patient, romantic, and real ... Beyond the Lights is a deft, gorgeous movie ... As we watch this dreamy, colorful piece of musical and romantic wish-fulfillment, we get the distinct sense we’re watching real life unfold." — Bilge Ebiri, New York magazine
"One of the most pleasurable moviegoing experiences I had this year." — Manohla Dargis, New York Times