OP1072. MANON LESCAUT, Live Performance, 10 Dec., 1949, w.Antonicelli Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Dorothy Kirsten, Jussi Björling, Giuseppe Valdengo, Salvatore Baccaloni, etc. (E.U.) 2-Naxos 8.110123/24. Very long our-of-print, Final copy! - 636943112328
"The [above] afternoon is a triumph for Björling. Perhaps no other role is so well suited to the tenor's vocal and interpretive gifts as Puccini's lovestruck Des Grieux. Though he was stiff in action on stage, one would never know it from his pointedly inflected, passionate singing. Now at the midpoint of his two decade span with the Metropolitan, musical style and vocal form are in perfect balance."
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, p.465
"The [above] MANON LESCAUT performance was just one of those times when everything went right and everyone was at his or her best. The legendary tenor Jussi Björling as Des Grieux, is in stupendous voice. His singing is ardent, vibrant, clarion and, where called for, meltingly expressive. But the surprise, for some, will be the performance of the soprano Dorothy Kirsten in the title role. Sadly, Kirsten was taken for granted at the Met, as were other American singers during the 1940s and '50s. Hers was not a glamour voice. She was not Renata Tebaldi. But she had a lovely, warm and quite full sound, solid technique, affecting artistry and keen dramatic instincts. She was also a strikingly handsome woman. Today she would have a major Met career. The supporting cast is strong, especially Giuseppe Valdengo as Lescaut."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Sept., 2000
“One of the greatest singers of the twentieth century, [Björling’s] career is well documented in his legacy of recordings and in music literature….His voice serves as a model for singers all over the world."
- Richard T. Soper, NORDIC VOICES
“In the mid years of the twentieth century Jussi Björling could lay fair claim to be the world’s finest lyric tenor. His is what may be described as a central voice – instantly recognisable and, to use a perhaps overworked description, unique.”
- Stanley Henig, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Spring, 2011
"Dorothy Kirsten made her professional concert debut in a stage show at the New York World's Fair. She was also reunited with Grace Moore, who recommended her to the Chicago Grand Opera, where Miss Kirsten made her operatic début as Pousette in Massenet's MANON in 1940. Miss Kirsten sang 15 minor roles during her first season, and the following year shared the stage with Miss Moore in a Chicago performance of LA BOHEME, singing Musetta to Miss Moore's Mimi. In 1942, Miss Kirsten began to sing leading roles with the San Carlo Opera Company, in Washington and New York City. She made her New York City Opera debut in 1943, and by 1945 had performed with the San Francisco Opera, the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. Starting in September 1943, she had her own radio program, 'Keepsakes’, which ran for a year. Miss Kirsten's Metropolitan Opera debut, as Mimi in LA BOHEME on 1 Dec., 1945, was a critical success, and was the start of a 30-year association with that house. In 1971, when she celebrated her 25th anniversary with the company, she reminisced about that debut, and recalled that Miss Moore sat in the first box, at the side of the stage, and threw roses to her. When Miss Moore died in a plane crash in Denmark in 1947, Miss Kirsten sang Schubert's 'Ave Maria' at her funeral. Miss Kirsten's career was centered in the United States, but she did tour Europe and, in 1962, the Soviet Union. There, besides giving recitals, she sang Violetta in a Bolshoi Opera performance of LA TRAVIATA, to considerable acclaim, even though, as she said later, she had to go on without the benefit of a stage rehearsal. During her years at the Met, Miss Kirsten sang most of the important Puccini roles, including the title roles in MANON LESCAUT, TOSCA and MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and she starred as Minnie in a revival of LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST that helped restore the work to the repertory. She prepared for the title role in LOUISE by going to France to study it with the composer. She also worked with the composer Italo Montemezzi on L'AMORE DEI TRE RE before she performed it in San Francisco and at the Met. In addition to the Puccini heroines, her repertory included the female leads in Gounod's ROMEO ET JULIETTE and FAUST, Leoncavallo's PAGLIACCI and Verdi's LA TRAVIATA. She sang in the American premieres of Walton's TROILUS AND CRESSIDA and Poulenc's DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES, both in San Francisco. Miss Kirsten's voice was not huge, but she used it gracefully throughout her long career. When she gave her farewell performance at the Met, on 31 Dec., 1976, Allen Hughes wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES that 'she sang and acted the part of Tosca with the vocal control and dramatic acuity of a prima donna in mid-career’."
-Zillah D. Akron