The Israeli Opera Puccini: Manon Lescaut Tel Aviv Opera House February 19 Of a commonplace opera such as Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," one can hardly expect more than a commonplace performance at the Israeli Opera. There was one singer of stature, however: Carlo Scibelli, in the role of Des Grieux. He is a lyric tenor par excellence, with a radiant voice and intense expression. It was completely understandable why Manon would fall in love with him. Less understandable was Des Grieux's love for Manon, as represented by Mlada Khudoley. Her clear, though not always easily audible soprano, had its bright moments, especially in the later parts. But these were isolated events in an emotionally shallow performance. At the end, however, she at last rose to genuinely moving, tragic expression in the Non voglio morir ("I don't want to die") of her final death scene. In the minor roles, Sergio Bologna displayed an appealing baritone as Lescaut, and Vladimir Braun sang in a sonorous bass-baritone as Geronte, but their characterizations were not particularly distinguished. Jean Claude Auvrey's direction was mostly melodramatic and did not stray far from the obvious. It was irritating to see the stage populated by minor figures that didn't not fulfill any clearly definable function.