- Audio CD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: RCA Victor
- ASIN: B000026PDM
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 425,529 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Puccini: La Bohème
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Puccini - La Boheme
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Top Customer Reviews
I have heard this recording several times and I love it. Tenor Tagliavini with his mezza voce sometimes - why do modern singers never use this singing technique anymore? - is the finest voice thinkable for this opera. Soprano Rosanna Carteri is a sensitive Mimi, bariton Giuseppe Taddei is a fine Marcello and bass Cesare Siepe sings as strong as ever. Only the Musetta of the to me unknown Elvina Ramella does not convice me.
The sound of the 1952 mono recording is very good on the Warner Fonit label (I have no idea on which label the here offered recordings appear as there is no picture of the box).
This is a Bohème to cherish next to the famous recordings of Beecham (Los Angeles/Björling), Serafin (Tebaldi/Bergonzi,) and Leinsdorf (Moffo/Tucker).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
As always with Toscanini a taut, fast paced reading...you either like that or you don't. Great supporting cast headed by the recently deceased Anne McKnight as Musetta and featuring the great clown Salvatore Baccaloni. Sound is up close and personal 1946 mono complete with rumbling subway under the hall at one point. Again, you either like that or you don't.
I don't believe there is a one best recording of "La Boheme" as there are just too many and styles have changed over the years. And while Rodolfo was certainly one of Peerce's roles and Mimi one of Licia's I don't think there can be a 'definitive' of either as there are way too many to pick from. Now Licia and Butterfly is a different matter...BUT Toscanini knew Puccini and conducted the 1896 world premiere of this piece. That alone makes this a historical document even if it was not the great performance that it is.
Highest possible recommendation...
For me, the interesting comparison is not the inevitable one with Puccini's opera but with Leoncavallo's own more famous Pagliacci. Leoncavallo's Boheme is richer, more melodious and more rewarding. The musical elan of the last two acts--where the power of the work resides--is something really staggering. The earlier acts only suffer by comparison to the last two. The music in those earlier acts is never less than lovely. Yes, the first two acts have a tendency to be, at times, long-winded. But Leoncavallo in those early acts is setting up the tragedy of the final acts. This structure is rather alien to Italian opera; it is really more like that of a French novel, or like Wagner's "total art work". Of course the down-to-earth characters in Pagliacci, by comparison to the lofty artists in Boheme, are more to the popular liking. But I dare say that if you like Pagliacci, you will love this.
The performances in this recording, the beauty of the orchestra, the power of the conducting, the conviction of the whole enterprise, are at the highest level. This is an operatic experience that will come your way only rarely in your lifetime. I can only compare it to other operatic recordings that have given me comparable pleasure: Werther with Georges Thill, Don Pasquale with Tito Schipa, the Keilberth Ring at Bayreuth in 1955, Erich Kleiber's Figaro from Vienna at about the same time, and this Boheme.
Well, first, Arturo Toscanini conducts his NBC Symphony Orchestra, an accomplished group. Associated with that: Toscanini in his younger years actually knew Giocomo Puccini. Thus, there is a personal link to the composer that has always intrigued me. As I recall, when Toscanini first conducted "Turandot," he stopped the performance at the point when Puccini had died during the composition process (my memory, of course, might be mistaken).
Second, a good cast. Licia Albanese as Mimi is most appealing. She had a fine soprano voice and could create affecting characterizations. Jan Peerce? I must confess that he has never been one of my favorite tenors. His vocal qualities put me off. I simply don't find his voice that appealing. However, obviously, he was pretty well regarded in his time, so I cannot take my own views as figural here. Anne McKnight is fine as Musetta, as is Francesco Valentino as Marcello (a key role).
Third, there is a crackling quality to the music (not surprising, given Toscanini's approach to conducting music). Indeed, Toscanini's clear interest in the subject is one of the reasons that I enjoy this version so much. He gets carried away! Listen to "O soave fanciulla." At a particularly poignant moment, one can hear him singing along with Mimi and Rodolfo! I always get goose bumps listening to this. There are those who do not much like Toscanini, but I find it compelling that he gets so caught up in the moment that he "sings along."
All in all, I regard this as a nice version of "La Boheme." Of course, the technical quality of the recording is not up to contemporary standards, but the end result is a version that ranks pretty high as I compare the different variations "out there."