Latest Recording of la Boheme
Gerald D. West | Cleveland, GA USA | 07/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The description of this product by Amazon is incomplete. The album consists of 2 discs: #1 is Acts I and II, #2 is Acts III and IV. Also included are the full libretto in Italian and English, and excellent program notes by Nick Jones.
It is a recording of a semi-staged performance of La Bohème in Atlanta Symphony Hall. This is the ideal way to record an opera for audio playback: the unobtrusive audience presence suggests a theatrical production rather than a stilted studio session, the recorded sound is not spoiled by the clunks and fades of a fully-staged spectacle, and the music is underpinned by a full-blooded symphony orchestra and chorus rather than an anemic opera house ensemble.
The performance by the young cast is enthusiastic and convincing. The noted French soprano, Norah Amsellem, and the American tenor, Marcus Haddock, sing the lead roles. The final act, depicting death by consumption (the 19th century version), is surely among the best recordings of this popular work.
The recorded sound is excellent, actually spectacular. Regrettably, the Telarc technicians have created an unwelcome distraction by indexing the CD within, rather than between, acts.
The lively performance and the superior recording process make this album a worthy successor to the many vintage recordings of leaden performances by operatic heavyweights of yesteryear. But is there still a market for opera CDs?
Even at this budget price, this recording is a waste of mone
bert1761 | Washington, DC United States | 07/18/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Given the demise of the recording industry and the woefully few new recordings being made of complete operas, I would never say "we don't need a new recording of [name the opera]." but I will say that we don't need THIS recording of "La Boheme." I don't know whether it is my ears, whether the singers don't record well, or whether they are just over-rated, but I don't understand the praise that has been given to the two leads in other contexts. I actually find it almost painful to listen to them. Norah Amsellem can produce song exquisite soft singing, but when she sings above pianissimo, her voice is often thick and even ugly. Marcus Haddock has a hard time hitting his notes squarely and often sounds like he's barking. While I definitely commend Telarc for attempting to give the opera-loving audience something that few other companies do, I do not think I will listen to this recording again. Instead, I'll listen to Gheorghiu & Alagna, de los Angeles & Bjorling, Ricciarelli & Carreras, Tebaldi & Bergonzi, Hendricks & Canonici (even) and, most of all, Freni & Pavarotti. But I'll give the recording an extra star for the lovely singing of Georgia Jarman as Musetta and for Telarc's generosity -- not only for giving us an opera recording, but for issuing it at an incredible price."