Great opera; poor recording; sung in wrong language
221b | 11/11/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Although the principal singers are quite famous, the recording is not worth the $10.00 it costs. The quality of the recording is embarrassing and the French opera is sung in Italian (Yikes). Spend the extra money find a better recording (this shouldn't be difficult). Remember, you get what you pay for!"
Great Singing, But NOT A First Choice Manon
Tracy L. Powell | Bangkok, Thailand | 02/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The good things about this recording certainly outweigh the bad things, but it still doesn't make it THE Manon to own. This opera is full of beautiful music and the singers and orchestra don't let it down. They really rise to the occasion. Freni and Pavarotti are ardent lovers. Pavarotti especially is full of passion. The wonderful Rolando Panerai does a good job of the almost thankless role of Lescaut. The problem with this recording is not that it is sung in Italian, but the cuts that it employs. Act III Scene I is totally missing. This includes the ballet and most importantly the scene between Des Grieux's father and Manon. And the spoken dialogue over the ochestral writing which is so effective is also cut. This means that in Act V Lescaut doesn't have a conversation with the soldier which is how Manon is reunited with Des Grieux! I don't know if these are the cuts La Scala made or were made to fit this opera on two discs. It was probably the former. Even with these problems we are lucky to have this live 1969 performance with Pavarotti & Freni. If you want to get to know this opera, the first choice is the EMI recording with Nicolai Gedda and Beverly Sills."
A deliciously "italinate" version of Massenet's Manon...
S. Bernard | Mesa, AZ | 04/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, I know... this opera was written in French, but in this live recording, it sounds so much more passionate than the average Manon. Having long been a fan of the Puccini version (Manon Lescaut) I never really enjoyed much of this version because it seemed to lack the simmer. I mean, Manon is supposedly so romantic, sexy and beautiful that a man would completely ruin himself over her. The real reason to get this recording isn't because it's the best Manon out there. No one would question that. It is to get for 3 reasons: First would be the singers. Freni and Pavarotti sound absolutely impassioned and convicing here. Even at the cost of sounding perfect. How many times have we heard studio recordings wishing for a little more "umph" or passione? This one has it. Second would be for the above reason I melted into #1... the passion, exictement and fun of a live recording. Sometimes that is what you want to hear. And lastly, it's because of the novelty of it being in Italian! I kinda like the flavor it lends to the entire thing. Doesn't bother me at all that they translated it. I'd rather hear that than an English version- which opera companies do all the time. Get it... it's fun Seriously, I got this many years ago before they released it on CD and I have almost burned up the casette tape replaying that "smokin'" love duet! wow! You'll be looking for your significant other or a cold shower after this Manon!"
Fabulous live atmospheric recording!
221b | Kent, UK | 04/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Despite what previous reviewers have said, I love this recording, patchy as the sound may be, the performances outweigh any reservations. Mirella Freni and Pavarotti are simply glowing in the great duet in Act I, and it is difficult not to get caught up in the audience's rapture throughout the opera. I love the atmosphere of live recordings, and this one has a sense of great theatre and a historic performance. One recording I wouldn't be without!"
Not authentic but still wonderful drama!
-D- | Bristol, England | 03/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderfully sung Italian portrait of Massenet's Manon. It is in Italian, which may upset some people, but it may well be preferable to hear Pavorotti singing freely in Italian rather than struggling in French! The opera is heavily cut and even rearranged in places. Some cuts are inevitable in a live performance of Manon which is otherwise extremely long. However these changes are rather extreme. It is also very much an Italian perfomance, with an Italian cast and audience. Despite all this, I think this is a great CD to own. The passionate scenes between Manon and Lescaut are more intense than on any other version I have heard. Mirella Freni sings her heart out and especially at this early stage of her career her voice really was extremely beautiful. She does not know how to sing an ugly note. As mentioned above, the Italian nature of the performance (with Pavorotti especially holding on to his final notes for maximum effect) bring the house down and are very much aimed at the audience. However, this also gives rise to a passionate performance with real feeling. The sound quality is not bad there is no irritating prompter, no coughing and not too much general audience noise except for applause. It's much better than many Opera D'Oro CD's. If you are a fan of Manon, then along with a complete version, I would recommend this as a lovely addition to your collection.