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Transferred by the award-winning Mark Obert-Thorn, this 1957 recording of Manon Lescaut with Callas singing the title rôle and Di Stefano as des Grieux, was one of Callas’s last complete recordings at La Scala, Milan.
Although the strain of her recent recording of Turandot (Naxos 8111334-35) sometimes takes its toll, her command of Manon is complete.
Those pages that are rarely sung accurately by other lyric sopranos, for example ‘L’ora, o Tirsi’ from Act II, Callas sings with polish and precision, executing the triplets with perfect rhythmic command.
Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
Act I: Ave, sera gentile (Edmondo, Students, Girls, Des Grieux)
Act I: Tra voi, belle (Des Grieux, Edmondo, Students)
Act III: Rosetta! (Sergeant, Townspeople, Lescaut, Manon, Des Grieux)
Act III: Presto! In fila! Marciate! … No! Pazzo son! Guardate! (Sergeant, Des Grieux, Townspeople, Captain)
Act IV: Tutta su me ti posa (Des Grieux, Manon)
Act IV: Vedi, son io che piango (Des Grieux, Manon)
Act IV: E nulla! Nulla! (Des Grieux, Manon)
Act IV: Sola, perduta, abbandonata (Manon)
Act IV: Fra le tue braccia, amore (Manon, Des Grieux)
Giacomo Puccini: Tosca
Tosca, Act I: Recondita armonia
Giacomo Puccini: La Fanciulla del west
La Fanciulla del West, Act III: Ch'ella mi creda libero e lontano
Giacomo Puccini: Gianni Schicchi
Gianni Schicchi: Avete torto … Firenze e come un albero fiorito
Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
Act I: Non piangere, Liu!
Act III: Nessun dorma!
“Callas thinks herself well into what becomes, to begin with, a more serious, calculating Manon - and a very accurate Manon, too. Then, dying in the wilderness in Act 4, she produces a performance so harrowing that it should surely claim a prime spot on any fantasy best-of-Callas single disc.”
“It is typical of Callas that she turns the final scene into the most compelling part of the opera. Serafin, who could be a lethargic recording conductor, is here electrifying, and Di Stefano too is inspired to one of his finest complete opera recordings.”
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