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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freni is great, but the Serafin is better all round
I love Pavarotti's voice and for me Freni is a lovely Mimi, but I think the Serafin recording with Tebaldi and Bergonzi is better. Personally I find Karajan completely overblown whenever he conducts Italian opera, listen for example to the Butterfly with Pav and Freni which is totally over the top. Serafin conducts a much more "Italianate" opera (with a clear...
Published on July 11 2004

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3.0 out of 5 stars A Karajan success
OK! So everybody loves it, and with some reason. I will not bother giving details on why it is rather great, but I will tell you why I only give 3 stars: it has Pavarotti in it. Perhaps I am a little bit prejudiced since I do not like the man. Perfect singing, but shallow singing and that becomes boring with time. I must admit that considering the other beauties of this...
Published on July 9 2000 by danielinyaracuy


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Freni is great, but the Serafin is better all round, July 11 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
I love Pavarotti's voice and for me Freni is a lovely Mimi, but I think the Serafin recording with Tebaldi and Bergonzi is better. Personally I find Karajan completely overblown whenever he conducts Italian opera, listen for example to the Butterfly with Pav and Freni which is totally over the top. Serafin conducts a much more "Italianate" opera (with a clear beat!) without pushing things to exageerration, which is all too easy with Puccini-kitch. His tempi are too broad and deliberate. Listen for example to Che gelida manina in Act 1- where Pav is completely out of time before going up for his high C (other people have written about this aria without noticing that Pav is out of time throughout this passage). But who can blame him when Karajan is slowing and speeding things up? Mind you the "money shot" - i.e. the top C- is magical and unique in sound. Tebaldi on the other recording is not as sweet as Freni but more gutsy. Bergonzi has none of the Pav tone but is much more musical in his singing. The Berlin Phil are, as usual, awesome. So, my verdict is 4 stars: great sound, lovely voices, but all a bit stagey and contrived: I guess it is a stylistic point about the Italian school of conducting and playing versus the German approach, but what happened to the Karajan of the 50s with that fantastic Lucia??.
(PS If you want to hear real characterisation of Mimi try the Callas. The voice is ugly comparared to Tebaldi or Freni but the singing is much superior.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Poetry, April 20 2004
By 
Ludmilla tellez (Laguna miguel CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
I love this recording so much, of course Karajan is one iof the best conductors of all times, PAvarotti sings with probably the most beautiful and sweet voice; Mirella freni is a great tender Mimi, and when I hear the third act I always end up crying!!The rest of the cast is great too, this is one of my favourite opera recordings, although I think that the recording of La Boheme with Di Stefano, Callas, and Moffo is very good too!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, Jan. 12 2004
By 
James D. Winkler "tontonwink" (Centennial, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
This is my favorite recording of my favorite opera.
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5.0 out of 5 stars There's EVEN BETTER, Jan. 10 2004
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
This is a classic Boheme. But let me tell you an "open" secret. There are even better Boheme's out there.
Yes, Pavarotti can hit all those high notes. But somehow, he can't match Domingo's intelligence of portrayal. And Freni simply cannot match Caballe's exquisite piannisimi. Caballe is, well, Caballe. You can't replace Caballe with Freni. It just doesn't work. Freni works well in theatre because she is beautiful. But when it comes to the voice, CABALLE is the ultimate Mimi.
And Karajan's conducting is simply too "beautiful". Where is the drama??? This is typical smooth and lots of legato Karajan without much else in it. Yes, it is beautiful but devoid of "verismo".
I guess this forum must be flooded with Pavarotti fans. Fact is I owned this set for a long time slightly dissatisfied. I was told that this is the best. But it goes to show how influential critics can be. Whatever they say, the public just swallow - lock, stock and barrel.
If you want to hear a REAL Boheme, get the Solti. After waiting a long time, I decided to explore the Solti set, and now I finally understand what Boheme is all about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Tremendous Recording, Sept. 28 2003
By 
Timothy Kearney (Haverhill, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
A few years ago, opera aficionados on a panel during a Metropolitan Opera broadcast were asked which opera was their first love. Each panelist said La Boheme, and each could remember a particular cast that made the opera magical. One panelist said "I think we all remember our first Boheme." I do not recall the cast, but I do remember the first time I heard this opera. I was a senior in high school and I purchased a budget recording of the work. The fact that the quality was sub par did not matter, because I did not know the difference anyway. I had to listen with headphones since my siblings did not appreciate opera the way I did. At the beginning when Marcello sings about his masterpiece to be, a painting of the Red Sea and Rodolfo spoke about his writing, I knew they were both geniuses in the making. Even though I had yet to fall in love, I knew that Rodolfo meant every word he sang when he "O Soave Fanciulla" to Mimi, he meant every word. I understood the struggles between both parts of lovers in Act III even though I had never struggled to keep a rocky relationship alive. When Musetta prayed before Mimi's death, I believed the sincerity of her intentions. And I shared Rodolfo's grief when Mimi breathed her last. After the recording was finished, I recall feeling so moved I could not speak. I can still recall these feelings when I hear the opera performed, or listen to a recording, and Karajan's version of this magnificent work can do it to me all the time.
What can anyone say about this recording that has not already been said? Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, and Nicolai Ghiaurov were all in their prime at the time this recording was made, and it captures the magic that each vocalist offers. Even though neither Pavarotti nor Freni are the appropriate age for the young lovers, listeners will excuse this because of the beauty of their voices. The passion and tension that defines the relationship between Marcello and Musetta comes alive with the singing of Rolando Panerai and Elizabeth Harwood. Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in his usual powerful, controlled manner that gives that is unequaled.
My only fault with the recording is at the end of Act II. When the military band departs, the recording engineers seem to have lowered the volume to create a fade away sound. It probably would have been better if there was a decrescendo by the orchestra, but this is a small fault in an otherwise [perfect recording.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you think this is great..., July 20 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
This is the greatest recording of Boheme, bar none. Pav is simply the King of tenors. And Freni is nearly his match. But if you think Pav sings well here. Wait until you hear him as the Duke in Verdi's Rigoletto! He hits with ease several high Ds. I repeat, high Ds. And his voice, his voice...ah, his voice.
I recommend this Boheme and Pav's Rigoletto with Milnes and Sutherland. Make sure you get his earliest Rigoletto, however. The Pav/Sutherland/Milnes Rigoletto. Pav did several other dukes and they are not nearly as good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Boheme is legendary..., Sept. 3 2002
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Feb. 8 2002
By 
Mark (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
YES.
Finally a great performance with great sound quality. This DECCA recording has it all. Perfect sound and amazing cast.
And what a cast!!
Pavarotti makes here (with some other Donizetti operas on record) one of his BEST performances ever. The voice shines! It is clear with beautiful ringing and healthy high notes.
I loved Freni. She delivers here a very wonderful sick and vulnerable mimi. Along with De Los Angeles, she made history of her performance here as mimi.
I cannot forget the very precious performance of Ghiaurov! Bravo.
And Karajan's recording...amazing (But I think comes second place after Beecham).
Well...nothing goes bad in this performance...on the contrary...it is just Perfect!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It can't get much better than this., Jan. 7 2002
By 
OneEyedCat (Washington DC, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
I confess this was the first time I'd heard this recording of THE opera, "La Boheme," and now I don't think I'll ever be able to tolerate another. The little details are the best part, like the way Karajan holds Pavarotti at that high C in "Che gelida manina," or the snake-charming lustiness of Eliazbeth Harwood's "Quando men vo." I could go on for a long time; fact is, everybody's great, down to the smallest role. The quality of the recording itself is just so-so, but with so much talent, both on stage and in the pit, that's just not a problem. Buy this and you'll love it, I promise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive recording all should have., May 12 2001
This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
This is the perfect recording of La Boheme because it captured the best singers in their prime. What is a better combination than Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti? Even the other singers are tops-Rolando Panerai, Elizabeth Harwood and of course, Nicolai Ghiaurov (Freni's husband). The conducting of Von Karajan never dsipleases. This may not be a DDD recording, but the remastering is excellent. I would never replace this recording in the world. A must for all operatic libraries!
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