Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
La Bohème (Highlights)
Chorus and Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma
Conducted by Tulio Serafin
Plus arias from Turandot; Manon Lescaut, Suor Angelica and
DECCA 458 248-2
Here are highlights from yet another impressive La Bohème dating
back to 1959. This set dominated the catalogues of its day and was a fine
technical accomplishment. Tebaldi is most affecting as Mimi and Bergonzi
is a rugged masculine Rodolfo.
The Act I excerpt commences with the arrival of Mimi and one is impressed
with the sincerity and the grand emotive expressiveness of Bergonzi, and
the romanticising vulnerability of Mimi as expressed in her higher register
yet somehow she also manages to convey a 'street-wise' side to her character.
Act II is Musetta's but I felt that Gianna d'Angelo could have sounded more
coquettish in her Waltz Song. Serafin provides a vivid sense of theatre
particularly in the concluding passage as the martial band arrives.
Act III excerpts commence with the lovely lyrical reunion of Rodolfo and
Mimi. The quartet is marvellously realised here with the aforementioned lovers'
billing and cooing, exquisitely counterpointed by the vituperative arguing
between Musetta (much better here) and Marcello. Bastianini makes a superb
Marcello - boorish yet tender and his Act IV duet with Rodolfo in which the
pair express their longing for their estranged girl friends is excellent,
with Serafin providing a most moving accompaniment. Siepi is equally magnificent
as he bids farewell to his overcoat so that food and fuel can be bought for
the ailing Mimi. The concluding death scene is made almost unbearably poignant
by Bergonzi's heart-wringing despairing cries as Mimi expires.
As far as the bonus tracks are concerned - Renata Tebaldi is a poignant Liù
as she kills herself for the sake of Calaf in the short excerpt from
Turandot that also features a very brief appearance by Mario del Monaco
as Calaf. Tebaldi also sings 'In quelle trine morbide' from Manon
Lescaut, living in luxury, Manon sentimentalises over memories of love.
Tebaldi is deeply moving as the mother mourning her deceased baby in 'Senza
mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto' from Suor Anglica and ardently pleading
in the well-loved 'O mio babbino caro' from Gianni Schicchi. Carlo
Bergonza is ecstatic as he meets Manon Lescaut in his aria, 'Donna
non vidi mai simile a questa'.
For those preferring highlights this is a solid recommendation
see also Ian Lace on