- James Courtney (Bass)
- Paul Groves (Tenor)
- Mirella Freni (Voice)
- Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor)
- Anthony Laciura (Tenor)
- Dwayne Croft (Baritone)
- Federico Davia (Voice)
- Giuseppe Taddei (Baritone)
- Ramón Vargas (Voice)
Notes & Reviews:
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
With Luciano Pavarotti a powerful Des Grieux, James Levine conducts a comparably big-boned performance of Manon Lescaut, bringing out the red-blooded drama of Puccini's first big success, while not ignoring its warmth and tender poetry in exceptionally full, vivid sound with the voices well in front of the orchestra. In the title-role Freni's performance culminates in an account of the big Act 4 aria, more involving and passionate than any of the others on rival versions, with the voice showing no signs of wear, and with her sudden change of face at the words 'terra di pace' ('a land of peace') bringing a magical lightening of tone.
That aria makes a thrilling climax, when too often this act can seem a letdown. In this as in so much else, Levine conveys the tensions and atmosphere of a stage performance in a way that owes much to his experience at the Metropolitan. More completely than other versions, it avoids the feeling of a studio performance. Reactions to Pavarotti as Des Grieux will differ widely. The closeness of balance means that in volume his singing rarely drops below mezzoforte, but there's little harm in having so passionate a portrait of Des Grieux as Pavarotti's.
Needless to say, the hero's big emotional climaxes in each of the first three acts come over at full force. The rest of the cast is strong too, with Dwayne Croft a magnificent Lescaut. Many collectors will count this a clear first choice among current versions.
With Luciano Pavarotti as a powerful Des Grieux, James Levine conducts a comparably big-boned performance of Manon Lescaut, bringing out the red-blooded drama...The rest of the cast is strong too...Cecilia Bartoli makes the unnamed singer in the Act II entertainment into far more than a cipher.
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Works DetailsPuccini, Giacomo : Manon Lescaut
- Performers: Anthony Laciura (Tenor); Dwayne Croft (Baritone); Federico Davia (Voice); Giuseppe Taddei (Baritone); James Courtney (Bass); Paul Groves (Tenor); Mirella Freni (Voice); Luciano Pavarotti (Tenor); Ramón Vargas (Voice)
- Conductor: James Levine
- Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Chorus
- Notes: Composition written: 1893.
- Running Time: 47 min. 30 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Opera/Operetta
- Written: 1893