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Fans of Anna Netrebko (and they are legion) will be delighted to see that the diva offers a new recording of Manon Lescaut. Caught live in concert at the Salzburg Festival last year, it has the benefits of dramatic immediacy without the drawbacks of stage noise and variable sound that can bedevil a fully enacted performance. Netrebko seemingly finds the role of Manon very congenial (she was originally coached in it by Riccardo Muti) and it plays to her strengths. She has developed the vocal sweep to carry the big phrases through, and her high notes, generally a strength, are glorious here. Her oft-wayward intonation seems almost to have disappeared, and she sometimes dictates the flow of the music to the point that the conductor, Marco Armiliato, is firmly put in his place. She also has the tenor precisely where it hurts if Yusif Eyvazov’s anguished throatiness is anything to go by – but then, reader, she married him. To give credit, he does improve once he gets going and finds firmer vocal form. By Act IV, Netrebko and Eyvazov certainly take the music to its intense extremes without quite going over the top. The remaining cast is fine if generally unexciting.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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