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Puccini: La Boheme / Shao-chia, Kizart, Carbo, Park, Fiebig

Puccini / Park / Kizart / Carbo / Fiebig / Parking
Release Date: 02/28/2012 
Label:  Opera Australia   Catalog #: 56019   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Jose CarboJi-Min ParkTakesha Meshé KizartTaryn Fiebig,   ... 
Conductor:  Lü Shao-Chia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 1 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

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PUCCINI La Bohème Shao-Chia Lü, cond; Ji-Min Park ( Rodolfo ); Takesha Meshé Kizart ( Mimi ); José Carbó ( Marcello ); Taryn Fiebig ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Musetta ); David Parkin ( Colline ); Shane Lowrencev ( Schaunard ); John Bolton Wood ( Benoit ); Australian Op & Ballet O; Op Australia Ch OPERA AUSTRALIA OPOZ 56017DVD (DVD: 117:00); OPOZ 56018BD (Blu-ray: 117:00); OPOZ 56019CD (2 CDs: 111:00) Live: Sydney 2011


This Opera Australia production of Giacomo Puccini’s timeless La Bohème is a very good one visually, very entertaining to watch. Presumably replacing the Baz Luhrmann production that made such a splash in the 1990s, this 2011 version by director Gale Edwards relocates the action to post-World War I Berlin during the decadence and jaded glamour of the cabaret era in the Weimar Republic. The sets and costumes are period-evocative even if a bit opulent for a low-rent bohemian quarter. The Café Momus seen in act II rivals that of the legendary Zefferelli set used at the Metropolitan Opera in its breathtaking two-tier spectacle and bustling activity. The four bohemians as well as Musetta are tarted up a bit to cater to younger tastes, which also caters to mine. Schaunard, the musician, brings two attractive young men home with him to deliver his groceries, and his tastes seem to sway in that direction. Musetta, sung by Taryn Fiebig, enters the café as a blond glamour-girl in a fabulous spider-web-patterned black dress on the arm of her well-heeled consort, and the chorus ladies are dressed as rather sluttish showgirls who probably also double in a much older profession. The ubiquitous Nazis are present but kept low-profile.


The energetic young cast sings very well, looks the right age, and gives an emotionally charged performance here. Young Korean tenor Ji-Min Park takes on the role of Rodolfo with charming freshness and some fine singing. American soprano Takesha Meshé Kizart, grandniece of Tina Turner and Muddy Waters (think about that combination), plays a very fetching and vulnerable Mimi, and is vocally secure singing Puccini’s well-loved music and emotionally compelling in the final act. The other boisterous bohemians, the Marcello of José Carbó, the Colline of David Parkin, and the Schaunard of Shane Lowrencev, all sing well and keep things lively in the first two acts. Fiebig handles her big act II showpiece with sultry vamping and a fine voice.


There are many competing Bohèmes on video, some better sung and some better acted. If you want to see what has been called the rather fussy (but very enjoyable) Zefferelli production from the Met you have your choice of a 1982 version with the incomparable singer/actress Teresa Stratas and a young José Carreras, and a 2007 HD version with Angela Gheorghiu and Ramón Vargas. The latter two sing better, but Stratas will tear your heartstrings. An earlier Met production with Renata Scotto and Luciano Pavarotti is something of a mixed blessing; some of the singing is wonderful but the acting is less than convincing. The 2007 film with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón is also a good choice and takes the action beyond the limitations of a theater stage. The 1965 Karajan film with Mirella Freni and Gianni Raimondi also has many fans. You will note that this Australian production is also released as a two-disc audio-only set, and as such encounters even stiffer competition from recorded leads such as de los Angeles/Björling, Tebaldi/Bergonzi, Moffo/Tucker, and Freni/Pavarotti. This set cannot stand with that company. Recommended, then, in its video guise as a very entertaining and visually attractive production with pretty good singing. If you have Blu-ray equipment that is the way to go.


FANFARE: Bill White
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Works on This Recording

1.
La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Jose Carbo (Baritone), Ji-Min Park (Soprano), Takesha Meshé Kizart (Soprano),
Taryn Fiebig (Soprano), David Parkin (Bass)
Conductor:  Lü Shao-Chia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 

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