Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut”: Three Powerful Excerpts

Manon Lescaut, Giacomo Puccini’s 1893 opera in four acts, tells a haunting story of ill-fated love. Des Grieux, a student living in poverty, falls in love at first sight with the beautiful Manon, who is being taken by her brother to live in a convent. Des Grieux convinces Manon to run away with him. Yet, soon she becomes restless and torn between a life of passion with Des Grieux and material wealth with Geronte, a …

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Happy Birthday, Maria Callas

Maria Callas, the legendary Greek-American soprano was born on this date in 1923. Callas, who passed away in 1977, is remembered as one of the most influential opera singers of the twentieth century. Leonard Bernstein called her “the Bible of opera.” Her voice was distinctive. It wasn’t always “beautiful,” but it possessed a deep, powerful, and expressive magnetism. In this Guardian piece, Tim Ashley writes that “What she stood for…was truth rather than beauty, …

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A Brief Look Back at James Levine’s Tenure at the Met

Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced that James Levine will be stepping down as music director after four decades and 2,551 performances. Levine, who is 72, has been battling Parkinson’s Disease along with other ailments. Levine, who became music director of the Met in 1976, has been credited with raising the level of the company. In this interview he reflects on some of his achievements. Recently, Alex Ross summed up Levine’s tenure …

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Happy Birthday, Plácido Domingo

A belated happy birthday to Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo who turned 75 yesterday. In recent years, Domingo has remained active. As his voice has aged, he has successfully transitioned into baritone roles. Additionally, he has branched out into conducting. He currently serves as general director of the Los Angeles Opera, a position he held previously with the Washington National Opera. He has released numerous popular albums. In this clip from the late 1980s, you can see …

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