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A Portrait Of Manon - Great Love Duets / Anna Moffo, Et Al


Release Date: 10/14/2008 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1420   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jules MassenetGiacomo PucciniGiuseppe VerdiGaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Robert KernsGiuseppe Di StefanoAlberta AlbertiMaria Casula,   ... 
Conductor:  René LeibowitzFernando PrevitaliErich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera OrchestraRCA Italian Opera ChorusRome Opera House Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This re-release brings together a mélange of performances starring the late Anna Moffo recorded between 1958 and 1966, when her voice was at its loveliest. Moffo's soprano was a good-sized, creamy lyric with terrific agility and an upper extension including a high E-flat. It was expressive enough to cover many emotions, but while she was a conscientious vocal actress, she came short of plumbing any great depths. She was absolutely beautiful and both her Violetta and Lucia benefited from her stunning stage presence; indeed, they were probably her best roles. Her Violetta lacked only some gravitas for the outbursts in the second and third acts. Similarly her Butterfly, as recorded complete (from which the lengthy Love Duet is presented Read more here), benefits from having a light-voiced (and ravishing) Cesare Valletti as her Pinkerton and Erich Leinsdorf leading a small-scaled reading. I don't believe she ever sang Puccini's Manon Lescaut on stage; it would have been too large for her, and I think Butterfly was a role she only sang in the studio as well.

But this is a very fine collection, with two hours and 25 minutes of music to enjoy, and it is a good testament (no pun intended) to Moffo's charm and art. Her French Manon is just the right combination of insinuating and innocent, and she pulls out the on-the-nose high notes for the Cours de la Reine scene; she's also very moving and convincing in her seduction of Des Grieux in the Church. Giuseppe di Stefano is her partner in these excerpts, recorded late in his career (1964), and while his ardency and passion are most welcome, the voice whitens and strains at the top at forte, and his pianissimo singing is a crooning falsetto. But if you love him you overlook such things. In the Puccini Manon, Moffo is best early on: she exudes charm in Act 1, she gets the sadness of "In quelle trine morbide", and she's wonderful in the love duet. By Act 3 the music is heavier (though it's nice to hear such clean, clear high Cs) and she sounds a bit pressed from there on--but overall, it's a nice portrayal. Here the Des Grieux is the underrated and under-recorded Flaviano Labo, sounding virile and singing with absolute security, a slight yelp on the high B-flat at the close of the duet notwithstanding. Baritone Robert Kerns is a good Lescaut. René Liebowitz is better at leading the French Manon than the Italian--the latter is too soft-edged.

The Alfredo/Violetta duet from Traviata's last act is warmly sung by both Moffo and an unusually sensitive Richard Tucker, and the aforementioned Cesare Valletti partners Moffo beautifully in the Butterfly Love Duet under Leinsdorf. It's good to hear Carlo Bergonzi in the Lucia duet, and a nice surprise comes near its close when Moffo takes a high E-flat and Bergonzi a high C (it's written the other way around, but let's not push our luck). The program closes with Tucker joining Moffo, again quite insightfully, in the closing moments from the first act of Bohème, in which he (happily) lets her take the high C alone and does the correct, harmonic thing. The sonics vary, with the Bohème sounding as if recorded in a tile bathroom. In short, Moffo fans need not be convinced; others will be won over by her naturalness and the sheer beauty of her tone. [10/31/2008]

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Manon: Regardez-moi by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Alberta Alberti (Soprano),
Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano),
Robert Kerns (Baritone)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 22 Secs. 
2.
Manon: Adieu, notre petite table by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Alberta Alberti (Soprano),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Manon: Ah, Des Grieux! by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
4.
Manon Lescaut: Cortese damigella by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Mario Rinaudo (Bass),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Robert Kerns (Baritone),
Flaviano Labò (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
5.
Manon Lescaut: Donna non vidi mai by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Mario Rinaudo (Bass),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Flaviano Labò (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
6.
Manon Lescaut: Vedete? io son fedele by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Baritone),
Manlio Rocchi (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 50 Secs. 
7.
Manon Lescaut: Dispettosetto questo riccio! by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Mario Rinaudo (Bass),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Robert Kerns (Baritone), Anna Moffo (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
8.
Manon Lescaut: In quelle trine morbide by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
9.
Manon Lescaut: Senti, di qui partiamo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Enzo Titta (Bass),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Robert Kerns (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 0 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Taci, taci, tu il cor mi frangi!" 
10.
Manon Lescaut: Ah! Manon mi tradisce by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Enzo Titta (Bass), Mario Rinaudo (Bass),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
11.
Manon Lescaut: Il passo m'aprite by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass),
Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Baritone), Enzo Titta (Baritone),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 39 Secs. 
12.
Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Robert Kerns (Bass), Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Flaviano Labò (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra,  RCA Italian Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 10 Minutes 48 Secs. 
13.
La traviata: Parigi, o cara by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Richard Tucker (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Richard Tucker (Tenor)
Conductor:  Fernando Previtali
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
14.
Madama Butterfly: Bimba, bimba, non piangere by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Cesare Valletti (Tenor), Rosalind Ellis (Soprano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 11 Minutes 28 Secs. 
15.
Manon: Eh! j'imagine by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Alberta Alberti (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 18 Secs. 
16.
Manon: Je suis encour tout étourdie by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
17.
Manon: Ne bronchez pas by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano),
Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
18.
Manon: J'ai marqué l'heure du départ by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 7 Minutes 32 Secs. 
19.
Manon: Nous vivrons à Paris by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
20.
Manon: Allons! Il le faut pour lui-même by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano),
Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Written: 1884 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
21.
Manon: Instant charmant...En fermant les yeux "Dream of des Grieux" by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano), Alberta Alberti (Soprano)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
22.
Manon: Obéissons quand leur voix appelle "Gavotte" by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano),
Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
23.
Manon: Je suis seul...Ah! fuyez, douce image by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 11 Secs. 
24.
Manon: Ah! fuyez, douce image by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
25.
Manon: Oui, c'est moi by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Alberta Alberti (Soprano), Maria Casula (Mezzo Soprano), Anna di Stasio (Soprano),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Robert Kerns (Bass), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 8 Minutes 10 Secs. 
26.
Manon Lescaut: Oh, sarò la più bella! by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Enzo Titta (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Mario Rinaudo (Bass),
Anna Moffo (Soprano), Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 1 Minutes 50 Secs. 
27.
Manon Lescaut: Taci, taci by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Anna Moffo (Soprano),
Robert Kerns (Bass), Enzo Titta (Bass), Flaviano Labò (Tenor)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 11 Secs. 
28.
Manon Lescaut: No! pazzo son! by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Flaviano Labò (Tenor), Robert Kerns (Bass),
Mario Rinaudo (Bass), Manlio Rocchi (Tenor), Enzo Titta (Bass)
Conductor:  René Leibowitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Chorus,  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
29.
Madama Butterfly: Vogliatemi bene...O quanti occhi fisi by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Cesare Valletti (Tenor), Rosalind Ellis (Soprano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Chorus,  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
30.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Sulla tomba che rinserra by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor), Anna Moffo (Soprano)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 29 Secs. 
31.
Lucia di Lammermoor: Verranno a te sull' aure by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Anna Moffo (Soprano), Carlo Bergonzi (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Italian Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
32.
La Bohème: O soave fanciulla by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Robert Merrill (Baritone), Anna Moffo (Soprano), Richard Tucker (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Mistakes On the CD's Info and in Levine's Review August 24, 2012 By Ellwood J Annaheim (Cheverly, MD) See All My Reviews "The recording is in STEREO and not in Mono as listed. Anna Moffo sang Butterfly on stage. In fact, I was in the audience in Philadelphia in 1970 when she performed it with the Lyric Opera. She also sang it that same year while on tour with the Met.

This is a beautiful recording, and it is so wonderful to have it available again. In the original pressing of the LPs, RCA included a 45rpm disc with two arias from Massenet's one act sequel of sorts, "A Portrait Of Manon," (hence, the title of this CD set). Since Testament filled out their release with cuts from Moffo's other RCA recordings, why didn't they license these gems too? Such a missed opportunity! I guess they will never get to CD in my lifetime."
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