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Puccini: Manon Lescaut / Levine, Freni, Pavarotti, Bartoli, Vargas

Release Date: 11/21/2011 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001623302  
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Dwayne CroftMirella FreniRamón VargasGiuseppe Taddei,   ... 
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera ChorusMetropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a wonderfully vigorous reading of Puccini's first success, one in which just about everything works. Listeners should know that the orchestra/voice balance is off, with the voices very forward. Little or no attempt is made to make us believe that this is a stage performance. That having been said, on its own terms it's rich, full, amazingly loud, and good to hear.

Pavarotti’s voice was still gorgeous, with ping, colors, subtlety. And he sings off the words here, his stunning articulation complementing the sound. Mirella Freni has recorded the role of Manon before, but she brings new insights to it here. Yes, it's true that the close miking shows us that she's not 15; there's a distinct beat in the voice once or twice,
Read more and she does sound mature. But she's believable, very moving, and very lovely, turning her final-act aria into something searingly sad.

Dwayne Croft is a fabulous Lescaut with a rich, expressive baritone; one wishes he had more to sing. Taddei's Geronte is all-purpose angry-old-lecher, but that's good enough. Ramon Vargas' beautiful sound makes Edmondo a welcome figure, and—bonus of bonuses—Cecilia Bartoli turns up in Act 2 and serenades Manon—and us.

Much of the credit for the success of this undertaking must go to James Levine, who leads with great understanding of the score's impetuousness and with a perfect ear for its idiom. The Met forces are top notch.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
reviewing the original release of this recording, Decca 440200
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Works on This Recording

Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Dwayne Croft (Baritone), Mirella Freni (Soprano), Ramón Vargas (Tenor),
Giuseppe Taddei (Bass Baritone), Cecilia Bartoli (Mezzo Soprano), Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1992 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York 
Language: Italian 

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