La Boheme Puccini

Synopsis

Directed by Brian Large. With Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Gino Quilico, Nicolai Ghiaurov. Directed by Matthew Diamond. With Marco Armiliato, Kelli O'Hara, Lucas Meachem, Michael Fabiano. Von Karajan's recording of Puccini's La Boheme is probably the best all-around; sound, orchestra detail, structure, and magnificent singing, especially from Pavarotti and Freni. Von Karajan's concept of the opera is grand, which isn't exactly to my taste. I prefer the Beecham-Los Angeles-Bjorling for the conductor's lyrical concept.

Comedy, romance and tragedy – all the ingredients for a successful soap opera. Turn the clock back to Paris in the 19th century and the same winning formula was used in the best-loved opera of all time, Puccini's La Bohème.

Thomas Beecham conducted more than 300 performances of Puccini’s La Bohème. His mono recording boasts the beautiful pairing of Victoria de los Angeles and Jussi Björling – and features magical conducting and superb singing throughout.

La Boheme Puccini

Another EMI set, made later in 1956, highlights Maria Callas as Mimì, a role she never performed on stage and in fact studied specifically for this recording. Both she, and the silky-voiced Giuseppe di Stefano as Rodolfo, provide plenty of passion and character. So do Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni under the baton of Herbert von Karajan, on Decca. The whole cast blends well in this highly romantic, but perhaps less dramatic, version.

Also on Decca, the husband-and-wife dream team of Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna delivers plenty of beauty and passion in a moving interpretation of the opera. Riccardo Chailly’s conducting in this performance is hard-driven and unsentimental and the recorded sound is spacious.

Boheme

Less dynamic, perhaps, is Zubin Mehta’s version, featuring an all-Italian cast including Andrea Bocelli, whose unique voice glides effortlessly through Puccini’s delicious arias. However, his lightweight approach, combined with a rather wobbly Mimì in the shape of Barbara Frittoli, is no match for our overall winner.

Thomas Beecham’s recording may be old but, quite simply, it’s a stunner from start to finish. Operas don’t get any better than this – not even soap operas!

Puccini’s evergreen paean to young love and the bohemian life has captivated generations of Met-goers through Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic production. Movie theater audiences for the high-definition transmission of this staging got to see it with fresh eyes in a touching performance starring Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas as the frail seamstress and her poetic lover.

Full SynopsisBoheme

Performance Info

Performance Date

Apr 5, 2008

Composer

La Boheme Puccini Imslp

Giacomo Puccini

Librettist

Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica

Run Time

2 HRS 16 MIN

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus

DVD release by EMI Classics / The Metropolitan Opera

Cast & Creative

Nicola Luisotti

La Boheme Puccini Youtube

Angela Gheorghiu
Ainhoa Arteta
Ramón Vargas

La Boheme Puccini Opera

Ludovic Tézier
Oren Gradus
  • Apr 5, 2008
    Giacomo Puccini
    Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica
    2 HRS 16 MIN

    DVD release by EMI Classics / The Metropolitan Opera

  • Nicola Luisotti
    Angela Gheorghiu
    Ainhoa Arteta
    Ramón Vargas
    Ludovic Tézier
    Oren Gradus