Puccini: Manon Lescaut - Zeani, Tucker, Rinaudo, Aliberti; Schippers. Roma, 1969


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It is quite remarkable that the Rome Opera House, a major hub of Italian operatic activity, would employ an American tenor, a Romanian soprano and an American conductor, respectively, in a very Italian opera. The decision proved to be a sound one (no pun intended) as this cast ignites the stage. Virginia Zeani is near ideal in the title role. Her voice had the perfect balance of innocence and vocal heft to convey both the youth of Manon without shortchanging the spinto nature of this role. I was particularly impressed with the power she could muster at the climaxes, even matching her partner Richard Tucker. Tucker was most at home in roles which plunged the characters into depths of despair, and he is nothing short of astonishing particularly in his aria “No, pazzo son!”. His intensity is made all the more impressive considering how many tenors vocally crash and burn at this moment. But no one would ever accuse Tucker of being a “careful” singer, and he soars to the final b natural as if the note come from the abyss of his soul rather than the result of vocal technique. Thomas Schippers manages the many colors in Puccini’s orchestration well evoking brilliance and lyricism from the players. The sounds is excellent.

Virginia Zeani sings excerpts from Manon Lescaut
Barcelona, 1971

OD 11127-2

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