Angela Gheorghiu leads a magnificent cast in Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic production of Puccini’s La Bohème – filmed live at the Metropolitan Opera in Hi-Definition. This grand, sumptuous production of Puccini’s timeless masterpiece is brought to you on DVD by EMI Classics, continuing its collaboration with the Metropolitan Opera and its hugely successful Metropolitan Opera : Live in High-Definition series.
John Copley’s enduring production of one of the most famously melodious and popular of all operas is a classic of the Royal Opera repertory. With historically accurate designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and an excellent cast headed by Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai, this 2009 revival, in which conductor Andris Nelsons makes a distinguished Royal Opera House debut, does full justice to Puccini’s masterpiece. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound.
Oscar-nominated director Robert Dornhelm lends the story a darker glow, with Bertrand de Billy's soft-centred but warm conducting and two superb star performances. Villazón as Rodolfo, less… sings with a focused intensity which at time recalls Caruso, and makes a scruffily credible hero… Netrebko's creamy-voiced Mimì is no naïve little seamstress; her scarlet satin and glamour-girl make-up suggests she's been around… but her anguish in Act III is no less heartfelt. Dornhelm's sombrely sumptuous images capture a credibly chilly, squalid, yet defiantly romantic milieu.
"This Bohème is a glorious vindication of traditional staging at its imaginative, re-creative best. Giancarlo Del Monaco here turns his attention to the much more popular work and comes up with a humdinger of a production, beautifully set by Michael Scott in period, fast-moving and full of pertinent detail." (Gramophone)
This DVD is a new production of the Puccini favourite, staged at Salzburg 2012.Tenor Piotr Beczala rocks as Rodolfo, Mimì’s lover. Massimo Cavalletti sings Rodolfo’s friend Marcello with uncommon finesse and beauty of tone. Nino Machaidze is a moving Musetta.The robust orchestration of this popular opera verges on the ethereal as Mimì’s life slips away. Throughout his reading, conductor Daniele Gatti strikes the perfect balance between sentiment and sentimentality, vigour and fragility, the specter of untimely death and the quick and young it haunts. The New York Times wrote, “You don’t often hear Mimì sung with such vivid character and sheer charisma.”
Zeffirelli´s legendary 1981 Met staging with an allstar cast led by Teresa Stratas and José Carreras under the baton of Maestro James Levine
“With her fragile frame, cameo face and exquisitely modulated soprano, Stratas makes an ideal Mimi.” (The New York Times)
“One of the grandest, most richly textured productions of an opera to be seen anywhere”, wrote Christian Science Monitor, while New York Magazine lauded “Theresa Stratas´ potency as a dramatic presence and the sensitively refined artistry of her vocal performance…a true musician as well as an astute operatic actress.”
In the early 1960s two artistic giants, conductor Herbert von Karajan and director Franco Zeffirelli, joined forces to create this milestone production of Puccini's masterpiece at Milan's Teatro alla Scala. Filmed in that legendary opera house in 1965, with Zeffirelli himself directing for the cameras, this "Bohème" has been acclaimed universally for its unique theatrical impact and visual splendour. Starring the young Mirella Freni in her career-making performance.
This was the very first “Live from the Met” telecast, and its availability on DVD will no doubt give rise to intense nostalgia, as it did for me. (How young everyone looked!) There’s an authentic sense of occasion to this performance. It’s one thing to play to a packed house, another to play to a nationwide television audience, and with so many eyes upon them, everyone involved in this Bohème rose to the occasion. It’s by no means a perfect evening—what performance ever is?—but it’s a treasurable one for anyone who cares about this opera, the Met, or the principal singers.