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La Bohème - Cotrubas, Shicoff - Gardelli - Live at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (1982)
[color=#0000ff]DW Staff Approved
As per site rules, I feel obliged to warn you that anything you read, including the stuff below, about "La Bohème" may include what's technically known as a [color=#FF0000]spoiler, ie how it ends.
What People Say
As a body, critics are not easily moved, especially by familiar works like La Bohème. However, this production from the Royal Opera House proved to be one of the rare exceptions. The lovers, Mimi and Rodolfo, are sung by Ileana Cotrubas, the Romanian soprano, and Neil Shicoff the American tenor.
In The Listener, Puccini's biographer, Mosco Carner, wrote of Miss Cotrubas's Mimi that she has "..... just the right voice for this role. There is a touch of ineffable sadness to her singing – it is singing with, as it were, tears on it". Of Neil Shicoff's performance, Anthony Merryn remarked in The Stage "..... his Rodolfo was much more than a mere tenor. One could believe in him as a sensitive writer in a wretched environment, showing Mimi his work, involved with her, undergoing ecstasy, torment and grief as a real person."
(Courtesy: [color=#0000ff]NVC Arts) This link includes a small video sample - if in doubt, check it out.
Superlatives tumble forth from one's thoughts when attempting to describe this magnificent production of the Puccini masterwork, filmed at Covent Garden before an enthusiastic audience, distinguished as it is by remarkable direction and singing with splendid staging and costume design made even more vital by effective and oft amusing business. Stage director John Copley's celebrated production for LA BOHEME remains in the repertoire after 30 years and more, due in large part to the emotional interplay among all of the cast that forms a moving ensemble piece, featuring both singing and acting, with designing and costumes of Julia Trevelyan Oman establishing an appropriate mise en scène of waning refinement along the left bank of 19th century Paris. Ileana Cotrubas was accorded worldwide fame after she replaced an indisposed Mirella Freni as Mimi in 1975 at La Scala a mere 15 minutes before curtain, garnering the hearts of the Milanese in attendance, and her transfixing performance enacted here, in a rôle that admittedly does not offer an extensive range of emotional engagement, displays her unique style of vocal finesse as well as that dramatic excitement for which the Romanian diva is admired, while the supreme imaginative temperament of baritone Thomas Allen as Marcello along with spirited Marilyn Zschau as Musetta highlight a cast that is impressive in its entirety. Lamberto Gardelli offers an affectionate reading for what is arguably the composer's best and certainly most structurally balanced score, extending in feeling from the comedic to the melancholic with but one clinker (amidst the horns), the conductor's unrivalled treatment of the open fifths during the first section of Act III being especially worthy of note. Gardelli's control of dynamics for the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House matches the abilities of the soloists, most evidential in the case of lirico tenor Neil Shicoff as Rodolfo, a fervent performance in the van among the many in this film that additionally benefits from splendid sound quality, quite essential for complex but well-worked scenes such as occur during Acts II and III; altogether, then, the strongest operatic fare, not to be missed by devotees of acting and musical performance.
This is an extremely well-sung and beautifully (and believably) acted Boheme. While the singers are not household names (this is a London Covent Garden Royal Opera House production), they give dazzling performances, and what's more, their youthful attractiveness and exhuberance permeate the opera, considered by most experts to be Puccini's finest and most melodic.
I will grant that certain more famous singers may be able to sing a particular role better, but for overall quality, this is hard to beat.
The first thing you'll want to do after watching this production is rewind it and watch it again -- and that's what I did!
What I Say
First up - I'm biased - I was fortunate enough to actually be at this performance in 1982, and I still remember it vividly, as, I'm sure, does everyone else who was there. Just listen to the "crowd noise" - there simply isn't any. At the end of the famous arias, of which there are so, so many in this opera, there's no applause - the audience have become flies on the walls of 1930s Paris, and flies simply can't clap.
I've watched it frequently since, and it never fails to move me.
There are better audio recordings than this - Bjorling with De Los Angeles, Callas of course. There are technically better videos - Gheorghiu at the MET, if you like that kind of thing. But none so believable as this - Cotrubas is Mimi, Shicoff is Rodolfo, and you are there.
Carve out a couple of hours one evening. Dim the lights, grab a rough bottle of red, your lover, and a box of tissues, turn off the mobile, disconnect the phone, take the battery out of the doorbell, crank up the volume and be transported to another world. I simply defy you not to be in tears at the end.
(Courtesy - me)
A good synposis can be found on [color=#0000ff] Wikipedia.
This is a larger than usual rip, in colour with English Subtitles. Praise to the original ripper.
Any questions, thoughts, comments etc - please feel free to PM me.
(My upload speed isn't great, and this is going to take a while, so please be patient - electricity permitting, I'm on 24/7)
*** MediaInfo Mac // Plain text file report
2009-01-20 08:13:37 +0000
Information for File: La Boheme CD1.avi
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