'Manon Lescaut' has fared pretty well on DVD, but nothing comes close to this classic Metropolitan performance of 1980. This was my first encounter with opera, on television or stage, and of course I feared that it wouldn't hold up this second time around, now that I'm so much the wiser.
But it shines as magnificently as ever. The young Levine really gets his teeth into the Italian melodrama, and the orchestra plays beautifully. Granted, Menotti's direction opts for tradition and decent representation, and the sets in their drabness is very much of their time too. But the drama, the singing! The well-rounded, molten, Italianate sounds that the young Domingo emits are what opera is all about. That and his total involvement with the part. And to me this was Scotto's signature role, bewitching and coquettish in the first two acts, unfailingly tragic in the last two. There is no soprano ever whose 'Sola, perduta, abbandonata' I would rather listen to.