And it's legendary for good reason. Pavarotti's sweet, ringing lyric-spinto tenor voice wraps itself around the role of Rodolfo like the lover he is. This voice soars to the skies with Rodolfo's love for Mimi, sung here by the lovely and affecting Mirella Freni. Here is a Mimi who can melt hearts of solid ice and her performance with Pavarotti is irresistible.
We come to the voice of Nicolai Ghiaurov, a man with an instrument worthy of a god. What does he do with the very human role of Colline? He sings it magnificently, bringing to life dimensions I have never heard out of any other bass, with the possible exception of Giorgio Tozzi. Colline's farewell to his jacket, in his pitiful and touching attempt to save Mimi, brings tears to my eyes when Ghiaurov sings it. How such a gigantic voice can sound so sincere and sentimental is a mystery to me, but Ghiaurov pulls it off superbly. This is no fluke. Listen to Ghiaurov as the tortured Boris Godunov says farewell to his son as he is dying, and you will come to appreciate what a master singer Ghiaurov was.
Everyone here pulls together to give us a spritely yet tragic Boheme worthy of the ages. This is a worthy companion for the classic versions with Gigli, Callas and di Stefano, and Beecham conducting Bjoerling, Victoria de los Angeles, and Robert Merrill. If you love Puccini and this opera, you owe it to yourself to get this performance. Do yourself a big favor and buy this!