This was my first experience of a complete opera many years ago . As a child I had listened to Joseph Locke & Gigli Arias on the radio & adored the sounds of their voices . Then along came cinema with Mario Lanza in the 'Great Caruzo' . By the time I was 10 I was hooked on the Tenor Voice . Eventually I came across this complete recording from the local library , What a JOY . Bjorling is superb in this with a subtle range & emotion , what some would consider as a fault in the voice I consider as a display of emotion . He sings as if this role playing Rodolfo were real life , a sharp intake of breath when he meets Mimi who is more than ably portraid by Victoria de Los Angeles , a 'real life' crack in a note is so emotional that it takes the breath away . 'Your tiny hand is frozen' cannot have been sung better . What an amazing coincidence that Beecham & the star cast was available at the same time & this live recording in the studio was completed in very short time of a long afternoon . Here , you get the experience of a true 'live' performance without the modern day electronic adjustments of pitch & tone . It really is as good as if it had been rehearsed for weeks . Listen to Bjorling & you understand why mrs Caruzo stated his voice was the closest she had ever heard to that of her husband . Sadly , like Caruzo , Bjorling died before his voice reached the full maturity of a fifty year old tenor , what a joy that would have been . Still his voice in this was sublime , the timbre of his lower register & clarity of high note , brings life to the romantic Puccini music . I've not mentioned the rest of the cast but not one of them let this opera down , each & every individual performance is worth a review in its own right . Perhaps the orchestra is a bit loud on occasions , but , that is what it can be like in an opera house performance . However saying that Beecham controls them in wonderful style & compliments each voice with aplomb . This recording is worth its place in any musical collection
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The obituary of Victoria De Los Angeles in the Independent in January 2005 noted that 'It is impossible to imagine a more purely beautiful voice than that of Victoria de los Angeles at the height of her career in the 1950s and early 1960s'. Add the staggering vocal gifts of Jussi Bjoerling - perhaps unequalled by another tenor since WWII, a superb supporting cast and Beecham's talent, and you have the makings of a very special recording indeed - possibly the best La Boheme yet recorded.
I feel privileged to listen to this performance on CD.
My message is simple: don't delay. Buy it. Enjoy it. Weep with it. Smile with it. This is a truly exceptional performance by some of the most gifted people the musical world has seen and heard.
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Still best recording of La Boheme., Had this on vinyl years ago and was inspired to look for it on CD after excellent performance at ROH this year (2015) with Joseph Calleja and Anna Nebtrenko. Look forward to that being released as a DVD.
I had the double LP of this opera many years ago but had to sell it because I no longer possessed record player. Now I have the CD I can still enjoy the wonderful singing plus follow the libretto as I go.
Fantastic version of this iconic opera. Jussi Bjorling is fantastic as Rodolfo and Victoria de los Angeles beautiful as Mimi. I had a cassette (!) version of highlights from this and was hoping I could still get it, and, behold, there it was in its entirety. I am enjoying it very much
What a cracking recording this is. Although it is only mono it really is superb and there is a definite stereo spread to the sound. You can clearly pick out the performers and orchestra in slightly different positions in front of the listening position. Jussi Bjorling is on great form although I thought that I detected a slight blemish here and there, but the other performers are also first class which makes the double CD box set excellent value.