Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Opera ABC: Puccini La Boheme

This post features the definitive recording of, La Boheme, one of the greatest operas ever written. If ever there was a desert island disc, this must surly be it.

Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) is regarded as one of the greatest composers of Italian opera. Puccini is a brilliant orchestrator, excelling in big, dramatic melodies, with soloists soaring above the orchestra. Puccini's La Boheme has remained a firm favourite since the Turin premier in 1896. La Boheme in a nutshell: Poet Rodolfo and seamstress Mimi meet and fall in love. Mimi is sick with consumption (tuberculosis). Mimi dies, leaving Rodolfo grief stricken. For a more detailed synopsis go here.

My favourite recording of La Boheme is the classic recording with Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Herbert von Karajan (featured previously in Holst's The Planets) and the Berlin Philharmonic. This recording is one of the finest opera recordings ever and is pure magic from start to finish. The chemistry between the star studded cast members is sizzling. Pavarotti (Rodolfo) is in his prime. He has a magnificent voice with ringing high notes that are breath taking. Freni (Mimi) made this one of her signature roles and has rarely been surpassed. She sings with tenderness and vulnerability as required by the role.

Admittedly, La Boheme takes a little while to truly warm up. At about 15 minutes in, the "big" operatic moments start and the hits never stop flowing. Some of my favourite moments/arias are:
Track 8: Che gelida manina
Track 9: Sì. Mi chiamano Mimì
Track 10: O soave fanciulla
Track 15: Quando m'en vo - La commedia è stupenda!
Track 23: Donde lieta uscì
Track 24: Dunque: è proprio finita! Addio, dolce svegliare
Track 26: O Mimi, tu piu non torni
Track 29: Vecchia zimarra, senti
Track 30: Sono andati
Track 31: Oh Dio! Mimì!

Below is a youTube video with Ana Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. This is incredible and has to be seen.

Links to the recording:


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