Puccini – Manon Lescaut


Puccini’s retelling of the story of Manon Lescaut. It was already told in opera, but that didn’t stop Puccini. Why shouldn’t there be two operas about Manon? A woman like Manon can have more than one lover. […] Massenet feels it as a Frenchman, with powder and minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with a desperate passion. Even Massenet was not the first, that honour fell to French composer Daniel Auber in 1856, under the same title. Puccini’s version was his third opera. It premiered in 1893 in Turin’s Teatro Regio, and it was his first big success.

The story is about bad decisions and unfortunate consequences. Manon Lescaut is destined by her father for the convent. However, several men in her life fight for her graces, and every time she is making the wrong choice. She dies in Louisiana in the arms of her lover, in bitter regret.

Another monaural recording, but also a famous one by Maria Callas. Callas is still worth listening to, even though the sound leaves a lot to wish for. As the recording was made in 1957, I’m pretty sure it was the top of what could be done.

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