PUCCINI Manon Lescaut / Bocelli, Martínez, Domingo 4787490

. . . committed playing of the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana . . . [the] players accept every challenge in the music with exuberance . . . The choristers' singing is perfectly scaled to each of their lines, and they are convincing . . . it is immediately apparent that Mr. Bocelli is in good voice . . . [he] exhibits consummate mastery of Puccini's vocal lines . . . vocally, this is a fine portrayal of des Grieux by any standard, and the singer's genuine Italian magnetism is seductive . . . [Ana María Martínez delivers] freshly feminine but strong-willed singing as Manon . . . The timbre of Ms. Martínez's natural instrument is one of amber and dark rum, but she sings Puccini's vocal lines with lightness of tone and approach . . . Ms. Martínez is as involved a Manon as has yet been recorded, and the confidence of her singing is a joy to hear . . . audiences will laugh with Manon Lescaut in the opera's first half and cry with her in the second in spite of themselves. Ana María Martínez is a Manon Lescaut who inspires smiles and tears, and she has in Andrea Bocelli a des Grieux who never lets her down . . . [an] engaging "Manon Lescaut" . . .

. . . [with a glamorous acoustic glow around him,] Bocelli makes a lighter-than-usual, youthful-sounding Des Grieux . . . he sings with broad phrasing and a natural Italianate colour and style . . . Ana María Martínez offers a class act as Manon, youthful, spirited, with quickness of emotion alongside a hard-bitten streak . . . The three supporting men -- Matthew Pena as Edmondo, Javier Arrey as Lescaut and Maurizio Muraro as the characterful, older Geronte -- are well cast . . . Plácido Domingo, as conductor, puts on spurts of energy at high-powered moments . . .