This is a sur'price'ingly good Naxos recording. All the main labels have made at least one good/great recording of 'Manon', Freni/Callas/Tebaldi and Pavarotti/Domingo/Bjorling have all given stunning performances of the main roles. Here we have two, at the time for the recording, up-coming opera singers, Gauci & Kaludov. They both give surprisingly good performances, fresh-sounding and well aware of the storys dramatic turns. They also both sound a lot better than one would expect if only looking to the price of this recording. Especially Kaludov have something that makes you wonder why we haven't heard more from him. Gauci sounds very beautiful, although not fully as aware of the dramatic intensity of her part. The rest of the cast sounds a little rough, although none of them disturbingly so.
The conductor Rahbari gives a vividly detailed, dramatic and very lyrical reading of the score, and the orchestra sounds real good, if not as powerful or clear as for example the Decca versions of the work.
There may be a few better, especially when considering the dramatic intensity, interpretations of the main roles, as those I mentioned above, but as a whole, this is real impressive. So, if Manon Lescaut is your very favorite opera, you might want a more expensive version with better known stars, but if you are just an ordinary opera buyer who wants a version of this interesting opera, mainly concerned with the overall performance and/or the price - this version won't disappoint you in any way. More operas like this one, Naxos!