Few operas enjoy the widespread popularity of Puccini's La Boheme. In the Metropolitan's more than one hundred years only Aida has received more performances, although La Boheme was not even premiered there until 1900. For... more » this Metropolitan Opera production Franco Zeffirelli designed both sets and costumes of extraordinary realism and beauty. Perhaps even more astounding is Zeffirelli's direction that mirrors the music so closely in the action taking place on stage. Appearances by: Richard Stilwell, Jose Carreras, James Morris, Allan Monk, Italo Tajo, Teresa Stratas, Dale Caldwell, Renata Scotto, Glen Bater, and James Brewer.Conductor: James Levine« less
N. Gallimore | Upminster United Kingdom | 08/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of La Boheme has never been available in England, at least I have never been able to track down a copy. I actually bought the DVD directly from the Met opera shop, ask for Jack and he will give you all the advice you need, although I should warn you that it is much cheaper to buy it from amazon.com. Even more so if you live in Europe, because the shipping is much less from amazon. I have always loved San Francisco's Boheme, probably because I am obsessed with Pavarotti and Freni, and I do believe that this is the most beautifully sung Boheme available on DVD. However, if you are after an emotive and perfectly executed Boheme in which the performers and production get right under the skin, of what can be very "card board cut out characters", then look no further than this Met production. Teresa Stratus has by no stretch of the imagination a beautiful voice, but her acting and total commitment and understanding of the role of Mimi counteract this. She delivers her line at the end of her Act I aria " Altro dime non le saprei narrare." absolutely perfectly. I have never seen anyone equal it; and her intense portrayal of Mimi is full of moments like this. Hers is a truly wonderful performance and interpretation. As is Carreras' Rodolfo. I have always considered Carreras to be the better actor of the three tenors, and although he can't match their vocal splendour, he here gives the performance of a life time. Mind you, try and get a copy of a VHS of him at La Scala in La Forza del Destino - and you will see it again. The rest of the cast, with the exception of Scotto's Musetta, pale into insignificance against these two - my only major critisism is "why does James Morris look so absurd as Colline"? The production by Zeffirelli is excellent. So in conclusion, if you want exemplary singing throughout - then go for San Francisco's production with Pavarotti. If you want a Boheme from the heart, then the Met production is for you. In an ideal world, have both!"
Top-notch production with just a few reservations...
D. MCGOVERN | New Zealand | 11/10/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I thoroughly enjoyed this 1982 Zeffirelli production from the Met. It has much to recommend it: passionate singing from the underrated Jose Carreras, terrific acting from Teresa Stratas, an excellent supporting cast, great sets and direction, and first-rate conducting from James Levine.
I bought this DVD primarily because of Carreras, and it's a treat to hear him before the onset of his illness and vocal problems. True, he is pushing a little here at times, but his ravishing timbre more than compensates. Pavarotti may have the freer high notes, but Carreras' performance has a passion that most other interpreters lack. By his own admission not the world's greatest actor, he is nevertheless convincing as a young, idealistic poet, and this (along with Stiffelio, Don Jose and Andrea Chenier) ranks as one of his best roles. My only quibble is that he is a little hammy during Mimi's death scene (though few tenors can probably resist such a temptation!)
Teresa Statas is the consummate actress, and there is not one moment when her portrayal of Mimi does not ring entirely true. I was unable to hold back the tears during her aria in Act Three, so heartbreaking was her farewell to Rodolfo. Interestingly, she makes her impression without the benefit of a magnificent voice. This is a singing actress rather than a vocal great. Her voice strikes me as somewhat plain of timbre, lacking the beauty of, say, a Mirella Freni, but in this performance, at least, it simply doesn't matter. Her Mimi will stay with you for a long time. (I do, however, agree with one amazon reviewer who thought she looked too ill from the outset. The over-zealous make-up artist should have shown some restraint!)
Renata Scotto, in the role of Musetta, has a larger vocal presence, despite a wobbly vibrato when she's under pressure. Hers is a good overall performance, and her comic skills in Act Two add much to the liveliness of the Cafe Scene.
The rest of the cast was uniformly good, and the amusing horseplay between the four young Bohemians in Acts 1 and 4 was a real delight. Richard Stilwell as Marcello is outstanding in the reconciliation scene with Musetta in Act 2, and later in his duet (O Mimi, piu non torni) in Act 4 with Carreras.
The sound quality is fine, and I had no problem with the slightly dark (but highly atmospheric) visuals.
Overall, an excellent Boheme with much to recommend it. (And while you're about it, do check out the 1982 Covent Garden performance with Neil Shicoff and Ileana Cotrubas for an equally well-acted Boheme.)"
D. MCGOVERN | 05/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a brand new opera afficionado I could never really understand why Jose Carreras is so loved by the opera public. But now I understand! He is so believable, his singing and acting is done with great emotion and tenderness. Theresa Stratas is excellent as usual, very dramatic and emotional. I just wish she wouldn't have looked so sick already in the first act. Scotto is a brilliant Musetta, a joy to watch.The production is unbelievably extravagant. I forgot at times I was watching a staged version rather than a film. Very well done.I have seen La Boheme before but it never moved me as deeply as this version. A must buy!"
N. Gallimore | 10/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"La Boheme is one of the most beautiful operas ever written, and it's also one of the hardest to sing perfectly, but this comes about as close as any. First of all, Jose Carreras was a joy here. His Rodolfo was very moving and beautiful. Even Pavarotti's beautiful voice doesn't make up for his poor acting, but Carreras has both voice and stage presence. Teresa Stratas, next of all, is one of the most wonderful Mimi interpreters ever. her acting is also top notch, and she looks very believable, like she's truly ill. By the way, she also sang wonderfully in another part that requires illness (La Traviata.) The rest of the cast were all fine, especially Renata Scotto in the role of Musetta and James Morris as Colline. Scotto, having sung Mimi on an earlier recording with Alfredo Kraus as Rodolfo, knows this opera well and her Musetta is unique. Perhaps best of all are the sets, designed by Franco Zeffirelli. Levine was a great conducter and the choruses were well done. Buy this! I really suggest it."
Good Performance but Poor Production Quality
N. Gallimore | 11/21/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The cast, music and scenes are as good as one can expect from a stage opera. Voices are beautiful. But the video quality is not even as good as VHS - the DVD is probably a digital copy of the analog VHS to begin with. In addition, the video compression is poorly done, with ghost images that occur with fast movements. Audience noices are a big distraction. I also own a Gulda Mozart concert DVD made by Pioneer, same problem, ghost images and audience noices. Someboy also mentioned that Pioneer's "Metropolitan Opera - Centennial Gala" is also a low-quality production. Music lovers, when it comes to Pioneer Classics, think twice before you buy."