Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" (1893), his third opera and first major hit, makes its local debut in an Israel Opera production with the young and already acclaimed Russian soprano Mlada Hudoley in the title role. Young, lovely and passionately in love with the Count des Grieux (tenors Carlo Scibelli/Yotam Cohen), Manon nonetheless leaves him for the wealthy, but elderly Geronte (bass Vladimir Braun). Manon still longs for des Grieux though, and the two decide to run away together. Geronte prevents their escape when he charges Manon with the theft of valuable jewelry. She is convicted and exiled to New Orleans and her noble lover sails with her. In that city, at the time a French colony, Manon is stalked by the lecherous son of the governor. The couple flees into the desert where Manon expires in her lover's arms. The director is Jean Claude Auvray and the conductor Nir Kabaretti. Performances at the Tel Aviv performing Arts Center will run from February 17-28.