Notes & Reviews:
Two works by Giacomo Puccini are included in this new batch of reissues. Though still under the influence earlier composers, French as well as Italian, the 24-year-old Puccini was already being hailed as Verdi's successor - including by Verdi himself - after he produced his first opera, Le villi, in 1883. Encapsulating a tragic love affair within an hour, the piece ends with the ghost of the jilted heroine and the other Willis enticing her remorseful lover into a dance of death. When the present 1979 recording conducted by Lorin Maazel and starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo and Leo Nucci was released, Gramophone's reviewer was full of enthusiasm: "Maazel is excellent in drawing out the individuality of the soloists ... The ease and assurance of Scotto, Domingo and Nucci here, as well as their vocal richness, transforms each Puccinian melody. This is one of the richest and warmest performances I have heard from [Scotto] for some time, while Domingo as Roberto, rich and firm, manages to bring out the attractive anticipations of Des Grieux's music in Manon Lescaut. The recording ... is spaciously atmospheric."