Image of the Day

Manon Lescaut - Act 4
An artistic response to the relentlessness of this week's weather in Western Australia is to paint Act 4 of Puccini's Manon Lescaut.  Which is exactly what it has been feeling like.  And there's another month at least of the heat to go.  I painted this yesterday in just under 1 hour using photoshop.

The reason for Manon Lescaut?  The absolute desperation that Puccini evokes as our heroine slowly dies of thirst.  It's heartbreaking and when sung well can be Grand Opera at it's best.  Of all the recordings available, and there are many excellent ones, the one that stands out to me is the 1954 Decca recording with Renata Tebaldi and Mario del Monaco, conducted by Francesco Molinari-Pradelli.  It's an absolute pot-boiler of blood and thunder verismo singing, thrilling to the core.

Below is the entire act 4 in three separate tracks.  The entire act is pretty much an extended duet for soprano and tenor with a soprano aria as a central core.  Some of Puccini's best music, sung by two great Puccini singers of the past.