The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Puccini's tragic love story is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris among the bohemian students whose hectic gaiety only partially masks the despair and pain that threaten their lives. It remai... more »ns one of the most popular of all operas with its stark contrasts of lively humour and poignant tragedy. This recording of the well-known Covent Garden production by John Copley, in Julia Trevelyan Oman's authentic settings, stars Romanian soprano Ileana Cotrubas and American tenor Neil Shicoff as Mimě and Rodolfo, whose tender love affair is doomed from the start. "It is only when one sees and hears a performance so truthful and genuinely musical as that?at Covent Garden under Lamberto Gardelli's secure and loving direction, that the wonder of the score's unerringly poised structure is fully realised" DAILY TELEGRAPH Of Ileana Cotrubas: "?just the right voice for this role. There is a touch of ineffable sadness to her singing - it is singing with, as it were, tears on it" THE LISTENER Of Neil Shicoff: "?his Rodolfo was much more than a mere tenor. One could believe in him as a sensitive writer in a wretched environment, showing Mimě his work, involved with her, undergoing ecstasy, torment and grief as a real person" THE STAGE Music by Giacomo Puccini, Mimě: Ileana Cotrubas, Rodolfo: Neil Shicoff, Marcello: Thomas Allen, Musetta: Marilyn Zschau, Colline: Gwynne Howell. With The Royal Opera Chorus and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Conductor Lamberto Gardelli. Program language: Italian with Subtitles in English / French / German / Italian / Portuguese / Spanish / Japanese.« less
"Of all the versions I have seen, this is the one I enjoy the most. The singing is excellent, Neil Schicoff (Rodolfo) in particular is brilliant both as a singer and as an actor, and the turbulent relationship of Marcello and Musetta is hilarious without turning into a parody as in so many other productions.
And for once all of the key caracters act really well. When all the friends are together in Rodolfo's apartment in act 1, there's a real chemistry between them, certainly better than in most films about friends, and they seemingly have no trouble fooling around with each other in a very natural way while still singing well. The production is traditional, but warm and with an old-time Disney flavour to it (in a good way), and the camera angles and cuts are tastefull and well considered."
Beautiful picture, poor audio transfer
LHR, M.D. | OH USA | 01/02/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"To give my background with this production, I first saw this on VHS several years ago and bootleg copied the VHS for my own personal viewing. It was this lovely production with its wonderful performance by Ileana Cotrubas and Neil Shicoff which led me to really get into opera. I remember being chilled to the bone when I first heard Che gelida manina and Si, mi chiamano mimi... So I was terribly excited to see that they FINALLY released this on DVD in the US. Well I listened to this as soon as I got and was noticed that they did their digital magic and cleaned up this over 30 year old video quite well. The colors and sharpness are as good as they can be, however, I was terribly disappointed with the sound. I'm not sure how this can be because of all the technology at their disposal. The voices sounded like they were in some large hall, and the balance with the orchestra was completely off. I know that Shicoff doesn't have the most commanding voice, but you could clearly hear him on the old VHS version. When both Shicoff and Cotrubas are being drowned out by the orchestra you have to wonder what went wrong. It isn't always noticeable, but severely diminished my enjoyment of my favorite parts, that being the arias in the first act between Rodolfo and Mimi. So, don't buy this DVD. What a terrible disappointment and waste of money. The most important part of a transfer of the opera HAS to be the sound!"
Beautiful sung and drmatically very moving!
D. J. Edwards | Cheshire, CT United States | 02/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Owned this stunningly sung Boheme on VHS and now finally it makes its glorious way to dvd. Caught in their absolute prime, Cotrubas and Schicoff are deeply moving as they soar in their musical lovemaking. A Gem. Sets are wonderfully traditional. No subways, tunnels, interplanetary travel to contend with. Thomas Allen stands out with honors along with Marilyn Zschau to complete an unbeatable quartet. The Royal Opera House orchestra under Gardelli are an aural treat. Opera on DVD has come of Age and not soon enough. At least grab the opportunity to experience this performance. It's a Winner! No weak links in this magnificent performance. This production is to DVD what de los Angeles, Tebaldi and your favorite soprano are to audio CD. I don't deny the other great Bohemes available but for me, and taste is always personal, is something very special. Schicoff is one of the most sincere and real of singers and at this stage his voice has a full, rich, ringing timber. Much the same can be said of his fellow performers! Oh, what a gift! And do have a glass of wine at the Cave Momus while in attendance. It will stir your soul! Make it a ten star vintage while you're at it."
Adding to the chorus of praise
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 12/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This Royal Opera La Boheme is sterling in every way. Shicoff and Cotrubas are complete musicians first and foremost, and the singing is unconquerable. Neil Shicoff is one of the great tenors of his or any musical age, and his unfailing musicianship makes his singing beautiful beyond many others of more fabled estate. Perhaps no other singer (except Caballe and Ludwig) was more loved by orchestral musicians than Ileana Cotrubas, in equal measure for her impeccable musicianship and an unforgettable voice that carries a glow of tragedy deep in its emerald sound. She's a perfect verismo singer, though curiously few acknowledge it. With Cotrubas nothing is exaggerated, nothing out of pulse; she invests it all in actually singing, eschewing 'showing us' her singing - an unfortunately prevalent malaise. Thomas Allen's Marcello is bright and ardent, &the leaving scene with Rodolfo works up some vocal fire. Zschau exerts herself as Musetta, but not without delight. Gardelli marshals the Covent Garden forces with typical Royal Opera understatement and gets a huge ovation at the end. A traditionally staged Boheme recommended with passion to just about everybody. The singing's exceptionally bracing and beautiful. Cotrubas' revealing death scene can change your mind about Puccini. I think the VHS version has better sound, but the DVD is fine. I urge you to give this production a hearing."
Cotrubas Highly Effective as a Poetic Mimi.
Edward R. Oneill | San Francisco, CA | 02/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
I've seen a lot of Boheme's on video. This one's pretty good.
Acting-wise (and vocally) I like Stratas a lot, though I find Zeffirelli's taste in sets over-the-top. And the lighting and acting in the 1960's Karajan version are so bad as to be obtrusive. I don't know if there's a perfect Boheme on video or film, but this one comes close.
This production has its shortcomings (including the tenor) but Cotrubas's acting, vocal and physical, make it deeply touching.
On the down side, the garret is overly bright and has an odd physical layout, though one the staging uses well enough. The Musetta I find vocally shrill and a bit hammy (but isn't it always so?).
And the Rodolfo Neil Shicoff opens his fishface and screams inches away from Mimi's nose in a disturbing fashion: he's loud, louder and loudest, and we never think he's a person, always an opera singer. Not good.
On the plus side, Ileana Cotrubas effectively paints Mimi as a simple person--remarkably simple. You get the idea that I think is in the libretto: Rudolfo talks about poetry but Mimi IS poetry. She's so simple, she doesn't know she's dying--even when it happens--and a fur muff can delight her, even in her last hours.
She even vocally portrays the death effectively. It's difficult for a smart person to portray someone simple without mugging, but I think Cotrubas does that here.
There are other pluses. Thomas Allen is handsome and youthful in this role, and it's nice to see him in something besides Mozart. When he and Musetta fight, you know very well that it's all foreplay--a keen bit of insight.
The Colline and Schaunard are characterful and fun. And musically, it's all good enough not to distract.
Usually I tear up a bit in the last act, maybe shed a tear during Rodolfo's last cries of anguish, but in this I was consistently just about bawling. Maybe not the right yardstick, but it says something."