NPR logo Featured Artists in Puccini's 'Manon Lescaut'


Featured Artists in Puccini's 'Manon Lescaut'

Placido Domingo became General Director of the Washington National Opera in 2003, while continuing his legendary career as one of the world's great tenors. hide caption

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Soprano Veronica Villarroel stars as the title character in Puccini's Manon Lescaut in the Washington National Opera production conducted by Placido Domingo. hide caption

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Tenor Franco Farina has appeared with the Washington National Opera in Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani, along with his appearance as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut. hide caption

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Veronica Villarroel and Franco Farina star in Manon Lescaut from the Washington National Opera, in a production conducted by Placido Domingo.

Placido Domingo


Placido Domingo became General Director of the Washington National Opera in 2003, adding that role to his career as one of the greatest tenors of the past century. As general director, Domingo selects the WNO's repertory, and oversees casting and all stages of the creative process.

Domingo has also continued his international singing and conducting career. In Washington, Domingo has sung the role of Siegfried in two different productions of Wagner's Die Walkuere. In other WNO productions, he has sung Count Loris Ipanov in Giordano's Fedora opposite Mirella Freni, Rodrigue in Massenet's Le Cid, and the title role of Mozart's Idomeneo with Anna Netrebko.

As a conductor, Domingo has led WNO productions of Verdi's Otello and Il Trovatore, and a special performance of Verdi's Requiem at Washington's historic Constitution Hall. He has also led the company in productions of Bizet's Carmen, Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera and I Vespri Siciliani, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

In March 2002, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program was created to support the artistic development of talented young opera singers, coach-accompanists, and, for the first time last season, directors and conductors.

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Veronica Villarroel

Soprano (Manon Lescaut)

Chilean soprano Veronica Villarroel has been acclaimed in major international opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Stuttgart Opera, Lyon Opera, Deutsche Oper, San Francisco Opera and many others. She was best-known early in her career for roles such as Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte, Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme and Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata.

More recently Villaroel has appeared as Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madama Butterfly at companies including the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera. She has also played Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore at London's Royal Opera, and both Margherita and Elena in Boito's Mefistofele at the Metropolitan.

Villarroel's future engagements include Madama Butterfly at the Pittsburgh Opera and Verdi's Falstaff at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Villarroel has recorded opposite Placido Domingo for both the DG and Sony labels, and is featured on EMI's Placido Domingo Gala from Covent Garden.

Franco Farina

Tenor (Des Grieux)

Franco Farina has appeared with many of the world's leading opera companies, including The Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, London's Royal Opera House, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera and the Washington National Opera.

Farina is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, which awarded him an honorary doctorate of music. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme opposite Mirella Freni in 1990. Farina returned to the Metropolitan in Verdi's La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, Aida and Il Trovatore, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Bizet's Carmen, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Turandot.

Other recent role debuts have included Canio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci at the Deutsche Oper, the title character in Giordano's Andrea Chenier in Glasgow, and Arrigo in Verdi's I Vespri Sicialiani at the Washington National Opera. Farina has also performed in Verdi's Requiem in Florence, Dresden, London and with the New York Philharmonic.