For me, this second Puccini collection from Gheorgiu is preferable to her earlier (2004) program from Milan with Anton Coppola. For one thing, we get to hear both her and Alagna in best young voice from their appealing La Boheme and La Rondine complete sets -- the latter put them on the map as a glamorous young operatic couple. Second, the singer doesn't over extend her vocal abilities as she did in the first collection by attempting the murderous "In questa reggia" from Turandot, an aria totally impplausible for her lyric-spinto voice. Even Tosca is a stretch, but what reigning diva (as surely Gheorghiu is) hasn't wanted to prove that she can sing anything? Her creamy voice and soft-edged attack are perfeclty suited to almost everything she essays here, from Manon to Cio-Cio San. All that's lacking is the last ounce of dramatic involvement of the kind we hear from Tebaldi, Callas, and Price.
In the end, Puccini may well be Gheorghiu's best composer, as this touching album vividly demonstrates.