An enchanting new Manon at the Met

Adriana Maliponte has taken over the title role in Puccini's ''Manon Lescaut'' at the Met. This enchanting artist, whose appearances at the Met have been too few and far between these past years, brought her particular blend of haunting lyric soprano, vivacious stage presence, and Italianate conviction to this demanding part and made it altogether her own.

The role ideally requires a voiceheftier than Miss Maliponte's, but those larger voices tend to lack the bewitching variety of colors and timbres she has at her command. As an actress, she vividly brought to life this selfish, petty, enamored little girl who cannot decide between love and riches.

Miss Maliponte sings ''Manon Lescaut'' on Feb. 27 and March 2 (the radio broadcast performance), 5, and 8.

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