"Opera amateurs may not have heard of some of the great composers' lesser-known works and may not want to jump in to one with both feet, wondering what on earth they are likely to get. Naxos has taken one such piece - Puccini's Manon Lescaut - and given listeners a 'taster', albeit a generous one of just over an hour. If you like what you hear, you can buy the whole work...
"Manon Lescaut may not be as well-known in the Puccini canon as Tosca, Madame Butterfly, or La Boheme, but it does have an important place in history. It was Puccini's first great success, made him known outside his own country and established him as a possible successor to Verdi."
"This 68 minutes of excerpts from Puccini's first great success is an excellent introduction to the opera. We get most of the music for Manon and Des Grieux in Act 1, Manon's second act aria and the big duet, the beautiful Intermezzo (rather lugubriously played), some crucial moments from Act 3, and all of Act 4.In the title role, soprano Miriam Gauci is wonderful, singing with exactly the right Puccinian bloom to her voice and reaching superb dramatic heights in the last act without hamming it up.Kaludi Kaludov's bright tenor works well as Des Grieux and he sings with passion.Vincente Sardinero, with less to do (and the role is undercharacterized) is a stalwart Lescaut. ...the singing is what matters here and our two leads are very good indeed. And at this price, it's practically wrong to not own it."
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