There are not many Manon Lescaut good recordings available. Among those, only Levine (DECCA 92) and Serafin (EMI 57) get close to this one, which is arguably the best of them all. Technically perfect, Bruson's Lescaut is the best of the discography. First, his voice is of a great quality, and he uses it with experience and fantasy. You will barely hear such a perfect 'Sei splendida e lucente' like here, and few times you will ever listen to the phrasing of third act so perfectly sung like here, so precisely and with perfect accentuation. Freni and Domingo may not be the perfect couple, but each of them, in their own way, show very attractive approaches to their roles. Freni's sensuality and lirycism relates very well to the Manon of the first two acts. Also, her voice has no limits, and she actually makes no mistakes at all. However, in acts 3 and 4, we miss some tension, more depth of communication. Everything is very well put together, but her role has deeper meanings, as Calas, Olivero or Kabaivanska, other sopranos who interpreted this role, showed. Domingo is well known around the world because his Des Grieux role, joyful at the beginning, desperate at the end. His high pitch, one of Domingo's best qualities, is perfectly used in here. However, he lacks the sincere fire of Björling or Rucker. Sinopoli conducts in detail a very difficult music like this Puccini's opera, showing some genius moments. The orchestra sometimes is too much over the singers, but is overall a very well companion.
By the way, this $85 is an Import CD. I can't find it right now, but a couple of weeks ago I found the same recording here on Amazon for $25. Nobody should spend $85 for a double CD that can be found for a regular price ... In the meantime, you can use the link on top right that says Used and New. While I am writing this review, you can get it new for $27.
Bottomline: This is the best Manon Lescaut recording available, despite some weaknesses. Thanks for reading!
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