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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

1.
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 

Sound Samples

Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Ave, sera gentile
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: L'amor?! L'amor?!
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Tra voi belle, brune e bionde
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Ma bravo!
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Discendono, vediam!
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Cortese damigella
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Donna non vidi mai
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: La tua ventura ci rassicura
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: La tua Proserpina
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Vedete? Io son fedele
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Non c'è più vino?
Manon Lescaut / Act 1: Di sedur la sorellina è il momento
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Dispettosetto questo riccio!
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: In quelle trine morbide
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Poichè tu vuoi saper?
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Che ceffi son costor? ... Sulla vetta tu del monte
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Paga costor!
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Minuetto
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Oh, sarò la più bella!...Tu, tu, amore tu
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Ah! Affé, madamigella
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Senti, di qui partiamo ... Ah, Manon mi tradisce
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Lescaut? Tu qui?
Manon Lescaut / Act 2: Intermezzo
Manon Lescaut / Act 3: Ansia eterna, crudel
Manon Lescaut / Act 3: ... e Kate ripose al Re
Manon Lescaut / Act 3: All'armi! All'armi!
Manon Lescaut / Act 3: Rosetta!
Manon Lescaut / Act 3: Presto! In fila!
Manon Lescaut / Act 4: Tutta su me ti posa
Manon Lescaut / Act 4: Manon, senti, amor mio
Manon Lescaut / Act 4: Sei tu che piangi?
Manon Lescaut / Act 4: Sola, perduta, abbandonata
Manon Lescaut / Act 4: Fra le tue braccie, amore

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