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Puccini: Manon Lescaut (2 CDs)
 
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Puccini: Manon Lescaut (2 CDs)

20 Feb. 2014 | Format: MP3

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Song Title Artist
Time
Popularity  
30
1
4:24
30
2
0:58
30
3
1:10
30
4
1:48
30
5
2:01
30
6
3:46
30
7
2:11
30
8
5:45
30
9
2:00
30
10
3:56
30
11
1:42
30
12
4:17
30
13
5:32
30
14
2:31
30
15
3:08
30
16
2:12
30
17
1:14
30
18
8:22
30
19
8:04
30
20
2:15
30
21
3:31
30
22
3:32
Disc 2
30
1
5:15
30
2
4:37
30
3
2:59
30
4
1:46
30
5
3:50
30
6
3:28
30
7
3:05
30
8
1:58
30
9
5:35
30
10
4:46
30
11
7:39
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 12 Oct. 1993
  • Release Date: 12 Oct. 1993
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca Music Group Ltd.
  • Copyright: (C) 1993 Decca Music Group Limited
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:59:17
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001N21JR2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 185,103 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr JB on 8 Mar. 2004
Format: Audio CD
Here we have one of those (rather rare) recordings with a whole cast of stars managing to make a performance just as magnificent as one would expect.
James Levine conducts a white hot and blood red performance that still is warm in the more quite and poetic parts, caught in exceptionally clear and vivid sound by the engineers. And his singers definately has the skill to follow him. Both main caracters are far too old to be able to make a believable stageperformance, but you hear little of that fact on this record. Freni's voice is still as great as in many of her much older recordings: both warm, tender and powerful when so called for. Her last aria sola, perduta... shows no signs of wear in the voice. Her des Grieux in Pavarotti is, if possible, even better. I've not always been very fond of him, but this is truely great - he has a almost vulgar power combined with passionate and very thought through singing that perfectly matches des Grieux's caracter. And the mix of Freni and Pavarotti, under the support of Levine, is stunning. I havn't ever heard such a magnificently heartbreaking last act (the desert scene).
All the other singers catch up with them - Dwayne Croft superbly so as Lescaut, with a firm and full tone. Having Taddei, Bartoli and Vargas in minor roles is pure luxury. The choir and orchestra of the Met also are splendidly good.
This version also is believable, though recorded in a studio, probably because both conductor and lead singers have done it many times before on stage. This recording is a pure puccinian drama caught at its best. There really are no weak part in the whole production, which definately is the case in almost all rivalling versions. Although I love Jussi Björling's des Grieux (on RCA), possibly even more than Pavarotti's, this recording has both better sound and better over all qualities.
Don't hesitate - Highly recommended!
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Von Fallersleben on 12 Nov. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
ceekayone is a rip-off store. The CD's from the opera were full of scratches and very dirty. There was no booklet included, nor a tracklist.
I wrote them a couple of times without success. I only got some stupid excuses.
I will NEVER buy from them again!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
magnificently powerful 18 Oct. 2001
By Mr JB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here we have one of those (rather rare) recordings with a whole cast of stars managing to make a performance just as magnificent as one would expect.
James Levine conducts a white hot and blood red performance that still is warm in the more quite and poetic parts, caught in exceptionally clear and vivid sound by the engineers. And his singers definately has the skill to follow him. Both main caracters are far too old to be able to make a believable stageperformance, but you hear little of that fact on this record. Freni's voice is still as great as in many of her much older recordings: both warm, tender and powerful when so called for. Her last aria sola, perduta... shows no signs of wear in the voice. Her des Grieux in Pavarotti is, if possible, even better. I've not always been very fond of him, but this is truely great - he has a almost vulgar power combined with passionate and very thought through singing that perfectly matches des Grieux's caracter. And the mix of Freni and Pavarotti, under the support of Levine, is stunning. I havn't ever heard such a magnificently heartbreaking last act (the desert scene).
All the other singers catch up with them - Dwayne Croft superbly so as Lescaut, with a firm and full tone. Having Taddei, Bartoli and Vargas in minor roles is pure luxury. The choir and orchestra of the Met also are splendidly good.
This version also is believable, though recorded in a studio, probably because both conductor and lead singers have done it many times before on stage. This recording is a pure puccinian drama caught at its best. There really are no weak part in the whole production, which definately is the case in almost all rivalling versions. Although I love Jussi Björling's des Grieux (on RCA), possibly even more than Pavarotti's, this recording has both better sound and better over all qualities.
Don't hesitate - Highly recommended!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Levine's best recording 21 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is by far Levine's best recording, and probably the best overall recording of Manon Lescaut. Levine manages to match sense and sensibility, and the singers are just perfecly casted. Mirella Freni (despite her age) is still the greatest soprano of our time, and Pavarotti sings the way everybody wants him to sing, although some too open vowels sound a little kitsch. Listen closely to Bartoli's wonderful "cameo" and Taddei's clumsy Geronte.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Two great Puccini singers caught too late 24 Feb. 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
A lot of wind is blowing thorugh the reviews here. Dissecting every detail of this Manon Lescaut seems like overkill, and calling it "magnificent" or "Levine's best recording, ever" sounds fatuous. Decca made this recording in 1993 for the sake of their greatest star and cash cow. There's no doubt that he was masterful in their Madama Butterfly and La Boheme under Karajan, and despite advancing years one hears how good his Des Grieux could have been in his prime. But the voice is frayed, and the tenor's earlier ability to offer nuance has become sadly coarsened.

As for Freni, who gave a great interpretation of Manon for Sinopoli on DG, she was successful in doing remakes of Tosca and Butterfly that depended on artistry to disguise vocal wear and tear. She's moderately successful here, too, although being a seductress, Manon should sound as fresh and gleaming as possible. Levine, his orchestra, and Decca's engineering are all first-rate.

In the end, this set can't be called anything less than accomplished, but it captures two great Puccini singers too far past their prime.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Disappointment 13 May 2014
By Stephen McLeod - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
REVIEWED: Manon Lescaut, featuring Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by James Levine. Decca

Many years ago, when I was a teenager in the1970s studying piano in Dallas, Maria Callas and Giuseppe Di Stefano made a stop there in their (in)famous farewell tour. I didn't have any background in opera because no one in my family did. But my piano teacher thought I ought to hear it, so she gave me a ticket and an LP of the two singing duets exerted from various full length recordings. On side two was most of the last act of Tosca, and an 8 minute chunk from Manon Lescaut. The recital was, in retrospect, both exciting and sad. But the record was something else. I wore that LP out. That Christmas, my grandparents gave me three full length opera box sets, including the complete Manon Lescaut in stereo with Freni, conducted by Sinopoli. I wore that out too, but never replaced it. So recently, I found myself looking for a good stereo recording, and chose this based on my earlier experience with the GLORIOUS Puccini: La BohemeandPuccini - Madama Butterfly / Freni, Pavarotti, Ludwig, Wiener Phil., Karajan, under Karajan. I thought I couldn't go wrong.

Philistine that I am, the first thing I did on receiving it was to play the 2nd half of Act II. That's when I realized: I should have looked a the date (1991 - The famous Boheme, under Karajan, was made nearly two decades earlier); I should have read *all* the reviews. That first audition nearly broke my heart. This is, evidently, a recording made when both stars were nearing the end of their careers. Pavarotti's voice is dry and tight, at times almost hoarse. He growls rather than sings. Very unpleasant. Freni isn't any better. Her vocal comfort zone, by this stage in her career, had shrunk so that her bottoms sounded scratchy and her notes above the staff sound wild and out of control. It is not a pleasant sound. And with these two down, who cares about the rest of the cast and conductor? Levine and the Met Orchestra are engaged and play with characteristic finesse, but that isn't enough to cover for the poor singing.

So pass on this one, but I'm not giving up on Freni. The Sinopoli recording, mentioned above, is winging its way to me even as I type. Cheers.
14 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Tale of an engineer's job for an overparted tenor 17 Dec. 2005
By David H. Spence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Everything gets to an animated enough start, if on closer scrutiny, in the usual generic sort of way, under Levine's baton. The impression one could have of his work by end of Act One, however, is that perhaps he really did by 1993 have a natural feeling for Puccini and his idiom. More on that later.

Ramon Vargas is absolutely splendid as Edmondo, dreamy for his opening lines and effectively catches an often otherwise expressively blank Pavarotti in some of the vivacious banter of the opening scene. Luciano Pavarotti sings "Tra voi belle" trippingly off the tongue, on first impression, but it is obvious on closer scrutiny that age has taken its toll already, and there is a hardness, inflexibility that creeps in, even here, that is not so welcome. "Donna non vidi mai", with Pavarotti's very long vowels and intonation problems, is hardly convincing at all. His first encounters with the Manon of Mirella Freni are mostly convincing, Freni injecting an extra dose of demureness in her interpretation of the part, from where she had it for Sinopoli ten years earlier on DGG. Giuseppe Taddei makes an appropriately crotchety, then later a truly menacing Geronte (in his sarcasm), a real star turn and certainly one of my favorite performances on this set, and preferable to the Geronte of Kurt Rydl on the Sinopoli. Dwayne Croft is the animated enough, but somewhat (artificially) dark voiced Lescaut.

That just about marks the end of unfavorable comparison of the earlier Freni set with this one. The opening of Act Two finds Levine working the orientalesque flute solos just a bit much. "In quelle trine morbide", while perhaps being expressively a little more intimate than before, and all the while continuing to cut a very sympathetic figure, is less well connected in line and clear with intonation than before from Freni. Cecilia Bartoli's madrigal has a little more art than can conceal it, whereas Sinopoli has Brigitte Fassbaender, who manages to altogether avoid putting a personal stamp on this simple assignment and wins out this way. Anthony Laciura is disarmingly the stiff, decrepit, and stuffy Dancing Master. The Geronte of Giuseppe Taddei continues to be vivid, and without, so to speak, overcooking the goose.

After this divertissement or levee scene, we have the first long duet of two to three between the two lovers. Almost immediately one gets the sense, especially for Pavarotti's sake, of the entire thing being overmiked and placed, to the extent that the two protagonists seem to occupy a different sound stage from the orchestra. Same happens in Act Three during roll call (a solid James Courtney as Sergeant) with both orchestra and chorus also more separate from each other than the norm, which makes a bit of this passage sound like something out of Akhnaten or Einstein on the Beach.

"O tentatrice", from Pavarotti is generous with no less than three scoops and one quite ungainly downward portamento, and in response to Freni, after a too slow "L'ora o Tirsi" and shaky opening to this duet. She quickly gets things in focus for a touching delivery of "Son forse della Manon d'un giorno meno piacente e bella?" Overall, thanks to Pavarotti and Levine, the entire duet lacks something in line and its ability to fully engage the listener. This is followed by one of three volcanic bursts from the orchestra to introduce the next things to be happening dramatically. Unconvincing.

"Ah! Manon, mi tradisce" after Taddei and Freni have been so elaborate with their lines,is sung blank, straight ahead with heavily elongated vowels, and same happens with the arioso that follows convincingly intimate exchange between lovers and a fine Lamplighter's solo by a young Paul Groves. Pavarotti closes well, with his plea to the ship captain to be let aboard for the voyage to America, and actually again, after maybe at most three earlier instances, sounds like he is actually singing to someone else on stage.

Act Four, a few good lines apart, is belabored with a little ovrdoing it on the verismo from Freni and much loud, crude singing from Pavarotti, all straight ahead with long vowels again early on in the scene for "Vedi, son io che piango." With the eccentricity of the miking, the reach for the high C in "Sei tu, sei tu che piange?" is ear-splitting. Mirella Freni finally sounds vulnerable and overspent by the elements in her closing lines to the entire opera, salvaging what contribution she has made to an otherwise thoroughly misguided project from the getgo.

James Levine and the Met orchestra that plays well for him, sounds constantly supportive of all of his singers, but involved in only the most generic sort of way, and guilty of gilding the lily a bit much (as also does Muti in no more at all a preferable choice for this opera) in the first half of Act Two. Whatever fussiness and perversities one runs across from the then young Giuseppe Sinopoli on DGG, a few of them quite maddening, his set overall makes a much more invigorating case for this opera and for the open modernisms within that look forward to so much music by others and also the composer's own Il Tabarro and Turandot from close to twenty-five and thirty years later, respectively.

Mirella Freni could not have sounded better for the sessions and she is clearly preferable than all choices available on dvd and to the vocally beautiful but studio-bound Montserrat Caballe (opposite Domingo's first Des Grieux on records, equally beautiful and routine) and paired by an always musically and dramatically sympathetic Des Grieux from Placido Domingo. This is the choice between the two Freni sets, contributions from Vargas and Taddei apart, if only one can stay in print, that should do so.

The engineering job on this set comes very close to sinking the still newer Decca, for me, to two stars, and foreshadows the trickery that has made several recent Andrea Bocelli sets of complete operas by Puccini, Verdi, Massenet the true and sad reality that they have all become. Pavarotti's Duke and Alfredo Germont for DGG (both opposite a vocally tired Cheryl Studer) within a year or two of this Manon Lescaut, more realistically recorded, seemed so much more of a struggle for him than that of Des Grieux, whereas the opposite would have normally been the case. Apart from the engineering, there is no explanation.
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