This most beautiful aria from Puccini's opera Manon Lescaut with Caruso has already been uploaded by geologicalmap (
More Caruso info on my website:
The story of Manon Lescaut is based on the 1731 novel L'histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost.
The libretto is in Italian. It was somehow cobbled together by five librettists whom Puccini employed (or went through): Ruggero Leoncavallo, Marco Praga, Giuseppe Giacosa, Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica. The publisher, Giulio Ricordi, and the composer himself also contributed to the libretto. So confused was the authorship of the libretto that no one was credited on the title page of the original score.
The first performance of Manon Lescaut took place in the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1893. Manon Lescaut was Puccini's third opera and his first great success.
His publisher, Ricordi, had been against any project based on Prévost's story, because Massenet had already made it into a successful opera, Manon, in 1884. While Puccini and Ricordi may not have known it, the French composer, Daniel Auber, had also already written an opera on the same subject with the title, Manon Lescaut, in 1856.
Despite all the warnings, Puccini proceeded. "Manon is a heroine I believe in and therefore she cannot fail to win the hearts of the public. Why shouldnt there be two operas about her? A woman like Manon can have more than one lover." He added, "Massenet feels it as a Frenchman, with powder and minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with a desperate passion."
Puccini took some musical elements in Manon Lescaut from earlier works he had written. For example, the madrigal Sulla vetta tu del monte from Act II echoes the Agnus Dei from his mass, Messa. Other elements of Manon Lescaut come from his compositions for strings: the quartet Crisantemi (January 1890), two Menuets (probably 1884) and a Scherzo (1883?). The love theme comes from the aria Mentia l'avviso (1883).