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Puccini: La Boheme / Caballe, Domingo, Solti

Release Date: 10/04/2005 
Label:  Rca Victor Red Seal Catalog #: 70784   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Franklyn WhiteleyMontserrat CaballéSherrill MilnesJudith Blegen,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraJohn Alldis ChoirWandsworth School Boys' Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 46 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is an Enhanced CD, which contains both regular audio tracks and multimedia computer files.
This is a DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recording


Most operaphiles would not consider the hyper-dynamic Sir Georg Solti to be a likely candidate to conduct La bohème, but they also probably did not expect him to do an excellent La traviata prior to the sensational Angela Gheorghiu debut performance at Covent Garden. Herbert von Karajan’s Decca-London recording with Pavarotti and Freni has traditionally and deservedly set the standard for La bohème recordings, but this one holds up surprisingly well to direct comparison. Solti takes the opening of act I with unprecedented snap and verve.
Read more This works very well, especially for those who think this scene is too long. It also emphasizes the dramatic contrast with the lyrical effusions that follow. Act II has never sounded better, and act IV is fine. My main reservation concerns how Solti would handle the hauntingly beautiful music of act III. It is, not surprisingly, more intense than the ravishing von Karajan version that is preferable here. As for Pavarotti vs. Domingo, their fans will know whom they want. I personally think that Pavarotti’s lighter and more innately lyrical voice is better for Rodolfo. Caballé produces her customary beautiful sounds, but Freni may be the perfect Mimi. There is one particularly outstanding part in this interpretation. At the end of act I, most tenors and sopranos sing their final notes offstage loudly at a distance. Caballé and Domingo sing softly at a distance. The effect is breathtaking, especially with Caballé. Judith Blegen’s Musetta is far superior to Elizabeth Harwood. This is the major weakness of the Decca-London set. The supporting roles here are generously cast with Sherrill Milnes as Marcello and Ruggero Raimondi as Colline. Among more modern recordings, Gheorghiu and Alagna are quite ideal as the young lovers, but Riccardo Chailly’s insensitive conducting eliminates that recording from serious competition, as does its terrible sound, even on SACD.

Sonically, the balance on this recording favors the singers over the orchestra, but not to an objectionable extent. There is not much bass, and the high frequencies are dry and a little shrill at high volumes. This is basically Dynagroove sound. As with other Sony DSD reissues of RCA operas in this series, the foldout album contains the original LP cover art and a plot synopsis. The libretto with multilingual translations is available on an accompanying CD-ROM. This is an attractive and viable, sharply contrasting alternative to the Pavarotti/Freni/Karajan recording that nearly everyone will already have in his or her collection.

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

La Bohčme by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Franklyn Whiteley (Bass), Montserrat Caballé (Soprano), Sherrill Milnes (Baritone),
Judith Blegen (Soprano), Ruggero Raimondi (Bass), Vincente Sardinero (Baritone),
Noël Mangin (Bass), Nico Castel (Tenor), Alan Byers (Tenor),
William Mason (Bass), Placido III Domingo (Tenor), Placido Domingo (Tenor)
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir,  Wandsworth School Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 08/1974 
Venue:  Walthamstow Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 106 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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