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Giacomo Puccini - La Bohème [2 DVDs]
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Giancarlo del Monaco's cinematic production of Puccini's popular masterpiece takes its place among the great interpretations of modern times. Jesús Lopez Cobos directs an outstanding cast, led by Inva Mula and Aquiles Machado as Mimi and Rodolfo, in a landmark recording filmed with high definition cameras and in true surround sound.
"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)
"In this production by Giancarlo del Monaco the aim is a cinematographic representation. The sets, by Michael Scott with lighting by Wofgang von Zoubek, bring that ideal to stunning realisation. Although set in a period sixty or so years later than Murger's original novel (Scènes de la Vie de Bohème), the 1890s scenes are fully realistic and the imaginative lighting enables quick and subtle changes of location as well as focusing, when appropriate, on the more intimate scenes." (Musicweb International)
Inva Mula (Mimi)
Aquiles Machado (Rodolfo)
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Real; Jesús López Cobos
Stage Director: Giancarlo del Monaco
Catalogue Number: OA0961D
Date of Performance: 2006
Running Time: 149 minutes
Sound: DTS Surround; LPCM Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, IT
Label: Opus Arte
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Inva Mula defines Mimi. Stratas is the only one in my experience that even comes close, and that goes back to Renata Tebaldi. There is absolutely nothing negative about her performance; everything is just right.
The same can be said of Aquiles Machado. His voice is perfect for Rodolfo, and even though he is a bit ... stocky (so were Caruso,Tucker & Bergonzi), he is totally believeable in this role.
All the other Bohemians are first class, with special bravissimi to Fabio Maria Capitanucci (Marcello) and Laura Giordano (Musetta).
The extra feature that was quite instructive discussed the opera with the two leads, stage director Giancarlo Del Monaco and Maestro Jesus Lopez Cobos.
Disc quality was perfect with clear, crisp picture and awesome and detailed DTS surround sound.
I go beyond endorsing this disc; it is a must have for any opera fan, and a great introduction for folks who wonder what it's all about.
There are some new faces in this one; but no disappointment in passion, or talent. The romantic lead , Rodolfo ( Aqiiles Machado ) , as another reviewer pointed out, is distractingly roly poly; but it is all the more plausible that he might have been fortunate enough to have won only one love his entire existence on earth. Aquiles has an admirable tenor soto voce - one a lot of us wish we could toss off so effortlessly as he does. And the objet de amore, Mimi - what a bell like clarity for a chronically ill young woman ! Her tumultuous ovation is well deserved.
One may ask, "why such a maudlin libretto to begin with"?...we know she is going to die in the end, yet still we hang on til the last dying breath. Indeed, why would any movie today cause us to shed crocodile tears at the end...even " Astronaut Farmer " , starring the ever intriguing Billy Bob Thornton, manages to yank tears from our quivering, foolish, forever believing in hope- faces . This one should bring a tear to your eye also.
The stageing , costuming, and making order out of chaos continuous action, drama, singing is quite the clockwork orange to witness. My only complaint, and a small one, similar to my complaint against many other stagings, like The Zeferelli production of Turandot..."Why so very much intense film noir darkness?" Is that dimly lit scene so very critical to the "cinema" played out before our squinting eyes straining to make out a facial gesture? I suppose we have to make sure the viewer feels a certain gloom and doom? ( same problem with the eternal slate on slate scenes in Turandot )...but , please= More contrast with gayly lit and then sombre would work better, in my view. Well..."small matter" I said. But I'm a painter not a musician, thus the emphasis on light and color, and framing of the shots. A truly talented cinematographer frames each shot so perfectly , that each frame should, and could make a framed still to hang on our walls. This one is close. It's a good production. If other reviewers have a favourite La Boheme, I'd like to hear about it, and take a look, myself. This is the only one I've seen. So what do I know?
Inva Mula's Mimi is the highest vocal point of this production, not just by her excellent singing, but also by her understanding and feel of the character. I think only Freni could do it as well. Machado and Capitanucci are very good as Rodolfo and Marcello. Laura Giordano is surprisingly good and credible as Musetta. The rest of the cast is very good and I particularly liked the Colline of Felipe Bou. Jesus Lopez-Cobos direction is one of the most sensitive I've heard, perfect for this production.
The sound has to be heard to be believed, full and crystal clear. In short this is has the best picture, the best sound and the best direction of ANY DVD opera so far, while the singing is very good also.
Thank you Giancarlo.
*I really regret someone who obviously has no idea about opera, could subtract two stars just because the singers are not young. In fact the singers here are younger than usual, so he should stay with the Australian Boheme which is miles away from this one in every respect.