Search - Puccini - La Bohème / Baz Luhrmann, The Australian Opera on DVD

Puccini - La Bohème / Baz Luhrmann, The Australian Opera
Puccini - La Bohme / Baz Luhrmann The Australian Opera
Actors: Cheryl Barker, David Hobson, Roger Lemke, Christine Douglas, Gary Rowley
Director: Geoffrey Nottage
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     1999     1hr 52min

Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House, this Australian Opera production of Puccini's perennial favorite was staged by the creative team who made the hit film Strictly Ballroom: director Baz Luhrmann and designers Catheri...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Cheryl Barker, David Hobson, Roger Lemke, Christine Douglas, Gary Rowley
Director: Geoffrey Nottage
Creators: Greg Shears, John Widdicombe, Giuseppe Giacosa, Henri Murger, Luigi Illica
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Classical
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/09/1999
Original Release Date: 06/08/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 06/08/1994
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 52min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: English
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Movie Reviews

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
Z. Yang | Hockessin, DE USA | 11/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The story has been set to 1950s Paris; the characters are portrayed with young faces; the songs are sung by fresh and splendid voices, this contemporary version of La Bohème completely blew me away. In this production, whether or not the singings are perfect takes second place in the face of vitality, passion, and intensity brought out by the brilliant young cast.

Bravo, David Hobson for giving such a wonderful wonderful Rodolfo. This is the Rodolfo you'll be dreaming of. He is handsome, he is tall, and his tenor rings out with beauty, clarity, and youthfulness. To make things even better, he acts brilliantly. He gives life to every note he sings. When he belts out a high C, it's not a matter of showing off his tenor, but a real emotional outpouring. Seldom did I see vocalist acting with such depth and sincerity. He put himself so deep into the character that at the curtain calls he is still in tears.

Brava, Cheryl Barker for conveying a tender and lovely Mimi. At some places Cheryl Barker's voice is not at her best in portraying Mimi, but her acting makes up the weakness, and in the end, she has become real Mimi. Her highlight is Mimi's death scene. Of all the times I have watched this scene, not a single time was I not in tears. She and David Hobson make a very good match, between them the chemistry is convincing, which makes their parting all the more heartbreaking.

Bravo, Baz Luhrmann for the creativity and courage of blazing new trails for classical opera, and for the raw artistic design. Instead of making a cliché of yet another production of classical opera, he has turned it into a great piece of modern theater, in which the essence is embodied with realism and bestowed with novelties.

Opera lovers, especially young opera lovers, this La Bohème is a must!"
This Boheme has great acting and magnificent voices
R. Nicholson | 10/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"La Boheme:
What an unbelievable work by Puccini: surely the opening theme must be one of the greatest melodies of all time. It moves me near to tears: To think anyone could imagine music this beautiful and be able to write it down for others to hear for time eternal.

The scene is Paris 1957. The 2 main actors are young and handsome: someone you could really believe to be falling in love. But the best parts are the acting qualities of the singers and what voices!!!!
In particular, David Hobson as Rodolfo: his rendition of "che gelida manina" will make the hair on the back of the neck stand up and salute! When done well, it must be one of a handful of great tenor arias in all of opera.
Cheryl Baker does an excellent job as Mimi. A great voice and her death scene in the end is very moving.

This production done by the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra is a fine example of an excellent use of people and resources. Filmed before a live audience (really the only way great opera should be recorded) we actually see stagehands moving the sets, and yet they do not distract from the magic that is happening but instead are part of the drama unfolding before you.

The only unrealistic part of the entire performance was the audience: Silent, except for an occasional cough, they sat on their hands if they were watching paint dry. Did they not see the unbelievable performances that were unfolding before them? I mean, is that not the purpose of live theatre??: Audience reaction to great performances: If I had been an actor on that stage I would have been so disappointed: wondering what we were doing wrong. Maybe the audience was instructed not to clap or shout until the end of a scene, but if that is the case why even bother to perform it live.

A wonderful disc; I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it."
La Boheme-- this is the one to have | 03/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have done several productions of La Boheme, and I have seen many more. This is the video version I would recommend. At times, the cast seems to have been picked for soap opera looks rather than for opera voices, but by the end it works, and it works beautifully. The director might miss some opportunities which Puccini obviously provides, but better a few missed opportunities rather than to engage in Zeffirelli excesses. The small production, the only okay orchestra, the voices which seem to be at times between musical theater and opera-- all of these factors end up not being important because you find yourself believing that these people are les bohemes, much more so than the usually older people who portray them. (After watching this, I found that listening to the so-called classic recording with Freni and Pavarotti seemed like listening to a bunch of middle-aged wannabes with no life in them at all.) Boheme needs a young vibrant cast and vibrant directions, and this is as good as you'll ever find. Rent the other DVDs of Boheme, but buy this one."
Luhrmann's first Bohème - classic performances that continue
Cameo | 06/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD of the legendary production of La Boheme, directed by a young Baz Luhrmann, was beautifully filmed in February 1993 by Geoffrey Nottage and is more like a musical drama than an opera, which is not surprising since Nottage was a leading TV drama director. Editing out the applause during the Acts also allowed the action to flow uninterrupted and greatly enhanced the dramatic effect.

Luhrmann was inspired to update Puccini's opera from early 19th to mid 20th Century Paris - a move that worked surprisingly well - and for the six principal roles used the best young artists available in the Company at the time. They were chosen for their ability as singer/actors and not - as has often been suggested by critics - for their good looks, which was a bonus. It was claimed that the reason they worked so well together was because they were all friends offstage as well as on, and it showed. Roger and David Lemke, and David Hobson (Rodolfo) grew up together in the Victorian provincial city of Ballarat, and Cheryl Barker (Mimi) was from not-far-distant Geelong, Christine Douglas (Musetta) was another Victorian, while everyone had worked with the Victoria State Opera. Hobson and Barker had sung Rodolfo and Mimi in a VSO country tour of Boheme in 1987, so were old hands in the roles when the new updated version was premiered by The Australian Opera in Sydney, July 1990. This would explain the so-called chemistry between the two and why, when Rodolfo and Mimi were carrying on romantically at the side of the group during Musetta's 'Quando me'n vo' in Act II, Hobson pulled a very unromantic face at Barker, before turning with a look of total innocence to join in the next part of the ensemble. And how many Mimis would urge their Rodolfo forward for a solo curtain-call with the words "Go on mate!"? (Come to think of it, how many Rodolfos would have to be urged to take a bow?)
Of the other young artists in the cast, David Lemke as Schaunard was a real scene-stealer for me, and I sometimes found myself watching him rather than the main characters. This tall young man, with his usually brown hair blonded for the role - probably to make him look less like his brother Roger (Marcello) - has a fine smooth baritone which I personally found more pleasing than his brother's darker voice.
Any scene involving the four young men in their lighter moments is delightful but I particularly enjoyed Act II, even where things nearly got out of hand during the final ensemble when Barker accidently knocked over a glass and there seemed to be some sort of private joke between Roger Lemke and Hobson (again). On the other hand, the skylarking in Act IV is affected for me by the knowledge that everything is about to plunge into stark tragedy.

Much has been written about the outstanding performance of David Hobson as Rodolfo, but what is probably not well-known overseas is that he is a high lyric tenor (actually a rare haute-contre) whose voice is best suited to the Mozart, Rossini and baroque/bel canto repertoire, so was courting vocal disaster singing a spinto tenor's role. That he managed to do it so well - but at the very limit of his voice-type - is a tribute to his artistry, although it's hard to listen to his big arias without fearing for that beautiful voice. However, he obviously avoided any lasting vocal harm because just six months after the 1993 Boheme season - with a light Offenbach role between - he sang his finest (and favourite) role of Orphee in Gluck's Orphee et Eurydice, a tenor tour de force but still kinder to the voice than Puccini! Just what a strain it was for him singing Rodolfo was demonstrated when, night after night, the young poet's tears for his dead Mimi became - after the end of the opera - the uncontrollable sobbing of a young singer at the end of his emotional and physical tether. Hobson said that after a performance he was 'wrecked', "because you can't just sing the words!" Before I saw the original VHS version, I'd listened to the performance highlights CD and was stunned by this highly dramatic conclusion of sobbing with the all too audible English words "I can't ... help me!", before the audience recovered sufficiently to begin their ovation. I'm afraid it took me more than a few minutes to recover, and it's usually impossible to watch the final scenes with dry eyes, even now.