Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Giacomo Puccini, Jonel Perea, Rome Opera Chorus & Orchestra|
Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Listen to Samples
The definitive interpretation
Charlus | NYC | 01/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
Licia Albanese, born at Bari, Italy, in 1913, was a Metropolitan Opera popular favourite between 1941 and 1966. She had a light lyric voice of full, dark timbre, which made her sound matronly in the lighter repertoire and less than dominant in the more spinto rôles. Yet she became a prominent singer because of the intensity, conviction and utter sincerity of her interpretations. The voice itself was rather work-a-day, but she had magic in her heart.
RCA Victor did not help her any by consistently miking her much too closely, overamplifying her flaws (a thuddy attack, an occasional bleat) and making her voice rather breathy and opaque. But you don't listen to Albanese's MANON LESCAUT for the splendour of her sound: get Tebaldi for that. One listens to Albanese in order to be moved to tears: her identification with the music and character is TOTAL.
Bjørling and Merrill provide more than enough vocal splendor: they had between them two of the most splendid voices of the XX Century!
Now that Puccini is usually screamed through without any feeling or sense, this recording is more important than ever. RCA ought to re-issue it with super-dooper 30-bit whatever. Great!"
Music lover | Philadelphia | 11/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is easily the best one of this work and the benchmark against which all others should be judged.
Perlea's conducting is superb. His tempi have a rightness about them as well as a definite pulse. There is forward momentum without any sense of rushing. He also has the long view in mind, clearly delineating the architecture of the work building the long arcs of each act to a shattering climax.
Albanese's Manon is definitive. The voice may not be to everyone's taste having that sweet/sour tang typical of mid-century Italian lyrics. It is also afflicted with some dryness and is weaker at the bottom. But the sound is intrinsically appealing and touching. A highly communicative singer, as well as a stylish one, this is a Manon to cherish. High C's are clean and strong, the phrasing patrician, the diction crystal clear within an easy legato. We hear a fully rounded, three dimensional woman who lives, loves, cheats, lies, exasperates, dazzles, enthralls, and finally dies. And this Manon really does die. Never have I heard such a realistic, heart-rending, or shattering death scene as this one. Unforgettable! This recording should be required listening of every aspiring singer to learn how to create and present an operatic portrait.
Bjoerling sings like a god and actually, perhaps inspired by his leading lady, acts the part of Des Grieux to perfection. The beauty of the voice, the control, style, phrasing, are to die for. The hair-raising high B in "Guardate, pazzo son!" just one example of the magnificence of his work.
Robert Merrill is a perfect Lescaut. The supporting cast, especially Mario Carlin, are great, and idiomatic. The chorus and orchestra have this music in their bones. The 1954 mono is highly acceptable, the transfer excellent. RCA needs to re-release this ASAP. Get a copy any way you can. Essential listening. A must have!!"
Classic Manon Lescaut
Michel | Montreal, Quebec | 02/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Licia Albanese did not possess the most beautiful
voice, but she had a very individual sound, warm
and penetrating, and she was a highly expressive
singer. Her Manon is riveting, from girlish
innocence to manipulative seductress, the depor-
tion and death scenes are supremely moving.
Fortunately she has an excellent cast to support
her. Jussi Bjorling is in glorious voice, singing
superbly, and is totally immersed in the character
of des Grieux. Robert Merrill and Franco Calabrese
are in top form, vocally and drammatically. Well
recorded and expertly conducted by Ionel Perlea.
All in all a very rousing set. A classic indeed."