PUCCINI: La Boheme

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Giocomo Puccini (1858-1924)La Boh?â?¿mePrior to the introduction of the long-playing record in1948, The Decca Record Company in London had recorded just one complete opera,Dido and Aeneas in 1936.  Thecompany had begun recording in February 1929 with its first release in June thesame year. During the 1930s, however, it was seen very much as a minorcompetitor to its main UK rival, EMI. In the immediate post World War II era,the company undertook an impressive programme of new classical recordings withtheir newly introduced Full Frequency Range Recording technique, which had beendeveloped as a result of war-time research requirements. The new LP era wouldbring the Decca/London label into the league of big players in the world ofclassical recorded music.This 1951 recording of La Boh?â?¿me was the first of Decca'srecordings of complete Italian operas, made in the Rome Accademia Nazionale diSanta Cecilia. The hall in which the recording was made is long and narrow,with a very high ceiling and a fine balcony, which also contains seats. Thevenue proved ideal for mono recording with the control room in adjoining roomon the same ground floor level.            Thesinging throughout the recording displays an uncommon taste and intelligence inthat all the performers observe the composer's dynamic markings of pianissimoand dimuendo. Much of the credit for this attention to detail must come fromErede's careful rehearsals. In addition the engineers handle the balancebetween voices and orchestra sensitively, a point not always achieved in monoonly recording.            TheItalian soprano Renata Tebaldi (b. 1922) had begun recording for the Company in1949 and had by now an exclusive contract. She was one of the most significantItalian lyric sopranos of the time and would enjoy a recording career spanningalmost 25 years. Her first recording of La Boh?â?¿me (she would recorded the workin stereo eight years later) is notable for the youthful freshness and richnessof her voice. She also conveys much delicacy in her interpretation of Mim?â?¼,especially in the first act. The death scene is also movingly portrayed.             Theglamorous Viennese soprano Hilde Gueden (1919-1988), another of Decca's youngand up-and-coming exclusive artists, was an unexpected choice for the r?â??le ofMusetta but proves inspired casting as hers is not the usual shrill Italiansoprano voice so often heard in the part. Later she would gravitate to the roleof Mim?â?¼. She would later sing the r?â??les of Musetta and Mim?â?¼ in successiveseasons at the Metropolitan during 1952 and 1953.     The tenor Giacinto Prandelli (b. 1914) was one of a number of newItalian tenors to emerge after the end of the War in Europe, having made hisdebut in 1942. If not endowed with the most mellifluous of voices, he alwaysused his clear light-voiced tenor with much taste and refinement, and hisportrayal of the poet Rodolfo is both sensitive and youthful. Sadly, he wasnever a prolific recording artist.     The veteran Giovanni Inghilleri (1894-1959) had enjoyed a considerableEuropean and American career during earlier decades and had sung Amonasro inthe 1928 recording of Aida. He would also take part in the concurrentlyrecorded Madama Butterfly for Decca.             TheRumanian Raffaele Arie (born 1920), a fine lyrical Colline, was amongst themost significant basses in two decades after 1945 and recorded quiteextensively for a number of companies during this period.            TheItalian bass-baritone Melchiorre Luise (1898-1967) enjoyed a long andsuccessful career in performing buffo roles throughout Europe, some of which herecorded to much acclaim.            Bornof a Turkish father and Italian mother, the Swiss-born Fernando Corena(1916-1984) had originally planned to enter the church but was encouraged totake up singing. Making his debut in 1943, he possessed fine linguistic skillsand was a witty comedian in both serious and buffo roles, singing particularlyin the United States and Italy. He recorded extensively between 1950 and1970.      The conductor Albert Erede (1908-2001) was well known both in Italy andBritain, and had conducted at Glyndebourne in 1938-39 and from 1946 to 1949 wasmusical director of the short-lived New London Opera Company, based at theCambridge Theatre in London. He also appeared at the Metropolitan Opera Housein New York between 1950 and 1954. Later he was Generalmusikdirector at theDeutsche Oper am Rhein from 1958 to 1962 in addition to conducting Lohengrin atBayreuth in 1968.            Thebrisker tempi adopted by Alberto Erede are nearer to those used by Toscanini inhis 1946 broadcast. Theese appear faster than possibly we are accustomed to 50years on. However Erede had observed the older conductor's working methods fromthe years he spent in Salzburg as musical director of its Opera Guild(1935-38).The highlights selection which conclude the second CD arevaluable in that it gives us the golden voice of Giuseppe di Stefano (b.1921)as Rodolfo at the zenith of his powers. He quite simply possessed all the giftsfor this romantic r?â??le in the early 1950s. His top register was exciting andvibrant, his mezza-voce velvety in texture, his diction perfect, hismusicianship sound and his stage presence admirable. Sadly RCA did not recordhim in the r?â??le complete as they already had a 1946 Toscanini broadcastperformance on their catalogue at the time. His Mim?â?¼, the Italian-born LiciaAlbanese (b. 1908) had already recorded the opera twice in 1938 and 1946 but asshe was one of the most important members of the Metropolitan Opera at the timeand also an exclusive RCA artist, it was natural that she would take part.Leonard Warren (1911-1960) was the principal Italian baritone at theMetropolitan by this time and his bronzed, healthy voice together with itshuge, vibrant upper register made him ideal for Marcello. Patrice Munsel(b.1925) had been the youngest ever-principal soloist at the time of her debutin 1943 at the Metropolitan, where she would continue to sing until 1958. Shealso starred and sang in the film biography of Melba, made in Britain in 1953.This is the first time these excerpts from La Boh?â?¿me have been released intheir composite entirety outside the United States.Malcolm WalkerSynopsisCD 1Act 1[1] The scene is an attic of a house in the artists' quarterof Paris. There is a large window from which can be seen the roofs of houses,covered with snow. In the room there is a fire-place, a table, a smallcupboard, a book-case, four chairs, an easel, a bed, two candlesticks and manypacks of cards. Rodolfo, a young poet, is looking out of the window, while Marcellois at work on his painting, The Passage of the Red Sea. His hands are cold, andhe blows on his fingers from time to time, to warm them. Marcello complains ofthe cold, but jokingly suggests revenge by drowning Pharaoh in the Red Sea.Rodolfo, meanwhile, admires the view from the window, the smoke from thechimneys, although their own stove is cold. Marcello continues to complain ofthe cold and the falseness of Musetta, and Rodolfo points out that love is likea stove that needs a great deal of fuel. Marcello suggests burning one of thechairs, but Rodolfo, preventing him, has a better idea. He will burn the playhe has written, and the two sit warming themselves in front of the burningpages. [2] The door opens and their friend, the philosopher Colline, comes in,stamping his feet. He throws a bundle of books onto the table. He complainsthat he has been unable to pawn his property bec
Disc: 1
La Boheme
1 Act I: Questo Mar Rosso
2 Act I: Pensier profondo!
3 Act I: Si puo?
4 Act I: Io resto
5 Act I: Non sono in vena
6 Act I: Che gelida manina
7 Act I: Si, mi chiamano Mimi
8 Act I: O soave fanciulla
9 Act II: Aranci, datteri!
10 Act II: Questa e Mimi
11 Act II: - To - Lei! Si!
12 Act II: Quando m'en vo (Musetta's Waltz)
13 Act II: Caro!
14 Act III: Ohe, la, le guardie!
15 Act III: Sa dirmi, scusi
16 Act III: Marcello. Finalmente!
17 Act III: Mimi e tanto malata!
18 Act III: Addio...Donde lieta usci
19 Act III: Dunque e proprio finita?
Disc: 2
Highlights from La Boheme
1 Act IV: In un coupe?
2 Act IV: O Mimi tu piu non torni
3 Act IV: Che ora sia?
4 Act IV: C'e Mimi
5 Act IV: Buon giorno Marcello
6 Act IV: Vechia zimarra
7 Act IV: Sono andati?
8 Act IV: Che ha detto il medico?
9 Che gelida manina
10 Si, mi chiamano Mimi
11 O soave fanciulla
12 Quando m'en vo
13 Donde lieta usci
14 Dunque e proprio finita?
15 In un coupe?...O Mimi, tu piu non torni
16 Sono andati?
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