Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Zeffirelli's 2003 La Scala Version of his Classic 'Bohème'Feb. 13 2005
J Scott Morrison
- Published on Amazon.com
Franco Zeffirelli seems to have a monopoly in video productions of Puccini's 'La Bohème.' Starting with his 1963 production for Karajan at Salzburg/La Scala, and then his Met version in the 1980s, and now back at La Scala (in that house's zoomy new Teatro degli Arcimboldi) his view of the opera hasn't much changed. In a charming 18-minute interview with him included in this DVD, he comments about how many generations of singers have performed in his productions over forty years. He even comments that the singers in this current production weren't even born when he first staged it for Karajan. He also comments, with just the slightest pique, that there have been nasty comments from critics about his concept but that 'the public continues to love it.' He also gets in some pretty strong statements about the wave among current opera directors to get far away from the libretto and music--the so-called Eurotrash approach. He clearly has little time for these productions, an opinion that warms my heart. His set and direction design are over-peopled but at least they stick to the libretto of Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica.
What of this production? Well, it looks a lot like the well-known Met production from the early 1980s. There is still the HUGE garret in Act I and the massive Café Momus scene. The Act III set is different and extraordinarily effective in providing space both for the interaction between Rodolfo and Mimì and later between Marcello and Musetta. The staging is also creative; I was amused by the oh-so-dignified drunk with an umbrella whose entrance and exit frame the entire act. Act IV is again quite similar to the Met production and like a fool I cried my eyes out--as always.
What of the singers? The Mimì is Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, waiflike and with huge eyes. She acts the part affectingly, probably the best actor on the stage. Her singing is a slightly different story. In the pianissimo pages she is stunning. But after Act I when the score calls for her to open up and declame loudly a breathiness creeps in that robs the voice both of heft and the ability to cut through the orchestra or other voices. Marcelo Álvarez is a moderately successful Rodolfo. He's not Pavarotti or Domingo, or even Carreras, but he handles both the singing and acting with professionalism and some degree of pathos. Not a top choice, however. He was much more effective--at least partly because the role better fits his voice--in last year's DVD of 'Manon' with Renée Fleming. Marcello is sung by Roberto Servile--who, I have to confess, looks enough like Plácido Domingo that I was momentarily confused--with a moderately large baritone. The voice is well-managed but lacks the last degree of suavity or heft. The clear star here is the Musetta of Hei-Kyung Hong. She not only looks stunning, but her voice is clearly in a league beyond that of her colleagues. Her 'Quando m'en vo' (Musetta's Waltz Song) is not only gorgeously sung, but her acting is first-rate. She is a spitfire in the Act III quartet and in Act IV she is endearingly touching. Whenever she is onstage one cannot take one's eyes off her. And the voice!
Minor characters--Schaunard, Colline, Benoit, Parpignol, Alcindoro--are all done unexceptionably. Giovanni Battista Parodi's Colline rightly got a big ovation for his 'Vecchia zimarra, senti.'
This is not the best 'Bohème' on DVD. That honor goes to the Met's production (Stratas/Scotto/Carreras/Levine) . Musically and dramatically it is generally superior, although one might make a case that in the current DVD the acting is slightly better. The 1963 Scala production, opened out in a film from 1965, with Freni and Raimondi, is superb. I notice that a 1969 production from the Met with Thomas Schippers conducting and featuring Freni and Pavarotti is due to be released this spring. I have not seen the Baz Luhrman-directed DVD from Australia Opera.
Bruno Bartoletti leads the musical forces with skill and subtlety and the La Scala Orchestra and Chorus are as good as one expects. The vidoegraphy is crisp, creative, inobtrusive. Sound--a choice of DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 or PCM Stereo--is just fine. Subtitles in English (but obviously translated by a non-native English speaker with a few amusing solecisms), German, French, Italian, Spanish. Extras: Interview with Franco Zeffirelli, in Italian with subtitles. TT=134 minutes
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Boheme on DVD that makes me cryMarch 29 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I've always loved Boheme, but as far as DVD recordings of this opera, there has always been some problem. Not with this recording. All the principals are excellent, especially tenor Marcello Alvarez. BTW, he is the only tenor on any live recording to sing his Act 1 aria in the original key. Cristina Gallardo-Domas has a bit of an edge to her voice, but sings beautifully, especially in acts 3 & 4. Designs and direction by Franco Zeffirelli are exceptional. There is also a bonus interview with him. A must have!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
WonderfulMarch 6 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Having watched and listened to La Boheme for various times, it is this particular La Boheme from La Scala that really piqued my appreciation at it.
Marcelo Alvarez sings beautifully along with his superb acting. Christina Gallardo-Domas also does too, but seems to little passionate.
Anyway, the title goes to Zeffirelli who created this long-standing marvellous production for the house in 1963, starring Gianni Raimondi and Mirella Freni.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Opera Modern, Version historcJuly 30 2009
Ali Hassan AYACHE
- Published on Amazon.com
Thrill to every note. This is the best phrase to define the opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini. Who does not love the characters Mimi and Rodolfo. What ears do not sensitize to the themes of lovers or bohemians. Many operas are already part of the past, La Bohème takes place in the future and is among the operas represented and beloved by the public. The director Franco Zeffirelli is known as a spendthrift. His productions expensive and luxurious amaze many theaters, but those who can afford their expenses almost never repent. The result is a clean and modern assembly. Respect for the libretto and the composer's intentions is another detail that does not escape. In this opera he hits hard. The costumes and scenery appropriate inventive is required in a director who understands. The correct handling of singers and their performances demonstrate control over them. This fact was not always conseguido.Usa technical theater in support of operatic drama. Zeffirelli does not invent theories or readings, do the basics with good taste and quality. That is its greatest virtue. This is the reason for his acclaimed success. Trend is the modern opera singers have the physical type of character. Reconciling physical type with a good voice is rather complicated task. Luciano Pavarotti sang this opera several times, there are many records on video, hard to imagine the tenor of more than 50 years a bohemian starving and cold. In this version all the singers-actors are vocal and scenic ideals to face their characters. Balance rarely achieved in an opera. Marcelo Alvarez is a beautiful tenor voice and acting safely. Dominates the stage with his youth striking and captivating. Her Rodolfo is a mixture of love and jealousy, his overwhelming passion in the first act ends with a failed attempt to leave his beloved in the third. The last act shows the balance between music and performance that the singer can impose is the death of loved one something moving. Cristina Gallardo-Domas is hardly a Leila Guimarães (Brazilian singer who won the first contest of Luciano Pavarotti and sang with him a fantastic La Bohème in 1982 in Philadelphia, is pirated version of this opera), but the beautiful timbre of soprano, treble good and medium can impose a respectable performance. It shows the fragility of Mimi from his first entrance until his death. The orchestra of La Scala in Milan is superb when it comes to Italian opera. The conductor Bruno Bartoletti conducts La Bohème with times corretos.Apenas a little slow in the Waltz de Musset. The strings are a part of the show, sound bright and clear. If video is a wonder to imagine live! The chorus dominates the second act, the monumental amount of chorus singing so tuned only be achieved in a production at La Scala. The direction of this camera was impeccable production work as a director who knows the opera. Angles and close ups show all the action perfectly. Image and sound quality, original recording and digital to DVD. Lighting contributes greatly to the flow of the plot. Worthy of a great illuminator theater. The biggest asset of La Boheme is moved. Are moved with the lovers know each other in the first act, we thrill to their joy at the Cafe Momus and the waltz in the second Musset, dejected with their impending separation in the third. Tears well in the eyes to see Mimi sick, the music repeating themes in the past when he met Rodolfo. Emotion is feverish. Mimi is not a character inside, the music has a metaphysical Richar Wagner's Isolde. But the emotion in that room that transmits act is striking. His death is not a redemption, but a tragedy of life. Today we have this dvd a modern version of La Bohème, in the future this will be considered historic.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
ANOTHER VERSION OF PUCCINI'S MOST POPULAR WORKAug. 26 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought this DVD a long time ago, but never get the nerves to review it because opera is very difficult to review. There are too many areas to put attention to. I, therefore, will only describe briefly and hopefully succinctly of the three principal singers' singing and acting qaulity.
Cristina Gallardo-Domas has a beautiful voice and is a good singer also. She is undoubtedly one of the best on the scene today. She portrays Mimi quite touchingly. Here, I don't mean to be impolite, but to say it is really impolite. I, nevertheless, can't help mentioning here that her mouth is really big. When she has to open it wide in order to deliver an all out forte, it looks odd and funny. In the death scene, for instance, I think Alvarez has a hard time to suppress a laugh looking at her wide opening mouth.
Marcelo Alvarez was already a seasoned performer when this DVD was taped. He gained quite some weight, but he is a very good tenor, not only with brilliant high notes but also with skill in shading the lines and his acting is quite competent.
Hei-Kyung Hong I'm sorry to say that looks rather matronly to be convincing as the sassy, pretty Musetta. She, nevertheless, sings beautifully and acts convincingly. I remember seeing her live at the metropolitan Opera House in New York with Richard Leech during the 1989/1990 season in the lead roles. I was so impressed with the singing by both of them that I went back for a second performance with even more fondness of their singing.