Author Topic: Puccini: Manon Lescaut  (Read 3734 times)

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Offline yashin

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Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« on: July 29, 2007, 07:34:01 PM »
I have once again fallen under the spell of Manon Lescaut.

The is some glorious music in the opera.  I especially love 'Oh, saro la piu bella!' -- 'Tu, tu, amore? Tu?!' from Act 2 and "Guardate pazzo son" and 'Manon, senti, amor mio . . . Vedi, son io che piango'  from act 4.

Have been listening to one of the great opera recordings of the age with Bjorling and Albanese.  This is one of them recordings that when you listen to others they just pale in comparison.  It is the benchmark for this opera. Listen to Albanese as she changes her voice in the riches to rags tale.  Listen carefully and you can hear her breathing-its almost like you can feel her heart beat. Bjorling is at his best, golden tone and refulgent singing.  Both are incomparable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPtWaxIp330 to see Fabio Armiliato as a super Des Grieux. Love this.
Has anyone got the Armiliato/Dessi cd of this opera?  It came out about 2yrs ago i think.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2007, 12:15:51 PM »
London Green in The Metropolitan Guide to Recorded Opera also puts the Albanese/Bjoerling/Perlea recording at the top of the list, while noting that Callas gives what is probably the most interesting portrayal of the title role. Unfortunately, she was not in her best voice when she recorded it (the rigours of recording Turandot only a few days before are only too evident), but Di Stefano, though he doesn't have Bjoerling's golden tone, presents a wonderfully youthful and ardent Des Grieux. Serafin conducts a tautly dramatic performance, in the central Italian tradition.
None of the performances, featuring such Manons as Tebaldi, Freni, Caballe and Te Kanawa come anywhere near the dramatic veracity of the Perlea and Serafin, although Domingo gives Bjoerling and Di Stefano a run for their money in the Sinopoli recording with Freni, and the Sinopoli is worth having for his performance alone.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline beclemund

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2007, 01:59:49 PM »
I am definitely going to have to get a hold of the Perlea set.

I have sets from Muti and Sinopoli. And while the Sinopoli set is a studio recording, the voices seem too recessed at times--particularly Freni's. I really like Guleghina in the Muti set, so I cannot find fault with it, but I understand that it is far from a favorite for most. Cura is quite good too.

I agree with Yashin, tho', there is some wonderful music in the opera.
"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession." -- Albert Camus

Offline bricon

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2007, 10:29:39 PM »
while noting that Callas gives what is probably the most interesting portrayal of the title role.

It’s also worth noting that Callas never sang the role (ie in a staged opera) on-stage, although she did sing the aria, Sola, perduta, abbandonata (maybe) half a dozen times in the early ‘70s, in concerts and master classes.

Manon Lescaut was never a significant role in Callas’s career, notwithstanding that her recording (of the complete opera) is quite well known.

Online The new erato

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2007, 10:46:47 PM »
I have once again fallen under the spell of Manon Lescaut.

The is some glorious music in the opera.  I especially love 'Oh, saro la piu bella!' -- 'Tu, tu, amore? Tu?!' from Act 2 and "Guardate pazzo son" and 'Manon, senti, amor mio . . . Vedi, son io che piango'  from act 4.

Have been listening to one of the great opera recordings of the age with Bjorling and Albanese. 

Perhaps my favorite opera recording ever - and my favorite part of the recording.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2007, 01:26:31 AM »

Manon Lescaut was never a significant role in Callas’s career, notwithstanding that her recording (of the complete opera) is quite well known.


A great deal of Callas's recorded repertoire was of little significance in her stage career. Unfortunately Walter Legge didn't have the courage to record her in some of the lesser known roles at which she excelled, prefering to play it safe by recording her in Puccini and the like. Though I am glad that we have these recordings of Puccini's Turandot, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Manon Lescaut and Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, how much more I would have prefered studio recordings of Verdi's  Macbeth, Donizetti's Anna Bolena, Bellini's Il Pirata, Rossini's Armida and Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani. And why not Gluck's Alceste and Iphigenie en Tauride or Spontini's La Vestale, all in Callas's repertoire? Admittedly there were contractual problems, which prevented her re-recording La Traviata for EMI, but Legge refused to allow her to record Medea, one of her most famous roles, and left Ricordi to record it instead. And let it not be forgotten that even Tosca was pretty insignificant in the Callas stage career; after the recording, she in fact, only sang it once on stage again before taking it up in Zeffirelli's famous Covent Garden production in 1964.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 01:30:33 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline bricon

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2007, 02:56:27 AM »
And let it not be forgotten that even Tosca was pretty insignificant in the Callas stage career; after the recording, she in fact, only sang it once on stage again before taking it up in Zeffirelli's famous Covent Garden production in 1964.

Callas sang at least 20 fully staged performances of Tosca prior to her 1953 recording; at least another 11 after the 1953 (EMI) recording (Venice, Met, Covent Garden) and a further 12 after the 1965 (EMI, Paris) recording (Paris, Met, Covent Garden).

By any standards, Tosca was a major role in the Callas repertoire – at every stage of her career.



Offline Brewski

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2007, 05:23:57 AM »
On February 16 next year, the Met will be showing the opera in movie theaters, and then releasing the live broadcast on DVD.  Cast includes Karita Mattila and Marcello Giordani, conducted by James Levine.

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Larry Rinkel

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2007, 05:30:13 AM »
On February 16 next year, the Met will be showing the opera in movie theaters, and then releasing the live broadcast on DVD.  Cast includes Karita Mattila and Marcello Giordani, conducted by James Levine.

--Bruce


I saw Mattila do this in Chicago a couple of years back; she was terrific. Agree about Bjoerling/Albanese.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2007, 05:33:18 AM »
I saw Mattila do this in Chicago a couple of years back; she was terrific.

Mattila does "In quelle trine morbide" on her CD Arias & Scenes, and it's one of my favorite things on the whole recording.  I can't wait to see her do the whole thing. 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

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Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2007, 09:05:53 AM »
Callas sang at least 20 fully staged performances of Tosca prior to her 1953 recording; at least another 11 after the 1953 (EMI) recording (Venice, Met, Covent Garden) and a further 12 after the 1965 (EMI, Paris) recording (Paris, Met, Covent Garden).

By any standards, Tosca was a major role in the Callas repertoire – at every stage of her career.




Not at all. She didn't sing it once at La Scala, for a start. Nor did she much like the role or have much love for the music of Puccini. Though she sang it a good deal, when she was forging her career, she started to phase out performances as she became more well known and could choose the roles she wanted to sing, just as she did with Aida and Turandot.
After the 1953 recording, the chronology is thus:

10 March 1954 - Genoa (1 performance)
15 November 1956 - New York (2 performances + a substantially cut broadcast of Act2 with George London)
28 February 1958 - New York (2 performances)
21 January 1964 - London (7 performances)
19 February 1965 - Paris (8 performances)
19 March 1965 - New York (2 performances)
5 July 1965 - London ( 1 performance - her final performance of any opera anywhere)

It will be seen that, in Europe at least, she dropped the role as soon as she could. That she sang it so often in New York,  was down to Bing being reluctant to stage for her anything other than Norma (because it was her most famous role), Lucia di Lammermoor and La Traviata, because they were already in the repertoire and he could dig out the same musty productions, with multiple casts and minimal rehearsals. I believe one of her complaints against the Met was that she never knew from one night to the next who she would be singing with. She returned to the role of Tosca in 1964 at the behest of Zeffirelli, who was trying to lure her back into the theatre in a role that was less taxing than her favourite repertoire. Typically, she only agreed on condition that they also did Norma, which, at that stage in her career was more than her voice could comfortably manage.

Over that same period (mid 1953 to 1964), she sang over 40 performances of Norma, 26 performances of Medea, 31 performances of Lucia di Lammermoor and 36 performance of La Traviata (all figures approximate), not to mention the new roles she took on in such operas as Anna Bolena, Il Pirata, Alceste, Iphigenie en Tauride, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Vestale, and La Sonnambula, another role she sang more often than Tosca.


\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline yashin

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2007, 05:08:29 AM »
I too like the Muti set with both Guleghina and Cura.  Both make some strange noises and don't always hit the notes as you would expect but the conducting of Muti is good and you get the odd spark flying.  Compare any track with the Albanese/Bjorling and it does not even compare.  But if you like these two artists then i would not hesitate.  I have not seen the DVD of this production.

The others i own include the Levine/Freni and Pavarotti set.  Freni certainly has the right voice for the part- listen to her phrasing of the text in ''Oh, saro la piu bella" and you will hear a great artist at work. Pavarotti is in great voice but sounds like he is just walking-through the role without any thought for the interpretation.  Maybe this is a symptom of Pavarotti's singing of many roles.  Levine and the orchestra play well but it all sounds too symphonic and somehow the playing does not help the singers.

Alternatives include the Miriam Gauci set on Naxos.   I don't like this even though Grammophone magazine liked it. The sound is typical of some of the naxos-it sound like it has been recorded in a bathroom!  The singing and playing of the orchestra is all to prozaic for my liking.

I do have the DVD from the Flemish Opera version with Gauci and Ordonez.  The Des Grieux of Antonio Ordonez starts off poorly and generally sounds strangulated in the role.  He can be quite difficult to listen too.  However, he does sing sweetly at times and puts some personality into the role even if the notes are not there.  Miriam Gauci sings the role very well.  The production is rather strange- fairly typical until the last act when rather than a desert we have a broken carriage and Des Grieux and Manon lay in the ruins of a shattered previous life.  Some may find it serious eurotrash.

My preference is for the excellent Glyndebourne DVD with Adina Nitescu and Patrick Denniston as the lovers.  This is a terrific production.  Nitescu is for me the perfect Manon. She looks and sings up a storm.  Patrick Denniston does what he can with the role.  Sometimes i find he sings too loud-but that seems to be symptomatic of singing this role by many tenors.  They certainly look like lovers, they sing great. My only concern is the conducting of John Elliott Gardiner- the orchestra seem to be intent on drowning out the singers.  I recommend this DVD without doubt.

Offline yashin

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Re: Puccini: Manon Lescaut
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2007, 05:15:26 AM »
Wondering what version to get?  look at this great article, it is on several pages so scroll down and click on other pages.
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2001/Jan01/Manon_Lescaut.htm