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Puccini: La Boheme: Live from the Met

4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Metropolitan Opera's acclaimed Live in High-Definition series, which projects live performances into theaters across the globe, has met with unprecedented critical and commercial success and has made opera convenient and affordable to millions of viewers worldwide. Now, EMI Classics is proud to collaborate with The Met to release 6 new DVDs made from these broadcast performances.

Puccini's immortal classic of love and loss, with Franco Zeffirelli's sumptuous, iconic production and Nicola Luisotti's expressive conducting. Angela Gheorghiu, the leading Puccini soprano of our time, reprises the role of Mimì, while tenor Ramón Vargas gives a sensitive reading of Rodolfo. All these forces combine for a truly definitive performance of this beloved opera!

Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème is a perennial favorite at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and it retains its power in this 2008 performance. Its large-scale settings and especially an Act II set that looks as if half the 1890’s Paris Latin Quarter has been beamed direct to the MET. It’s been criticized as an over-the-top spectacle, but as well as bringing breath-taking realism to the stage, it’s bursting with energy and directorial flair. The individuals making up the large crowds milling in front of the Café Momus each have some little stage business to do, giving the audience the feeling of participating in the onstage street festival. Zeffirelli’s detailed directing even extends to the snow-filled Act III, where shadowy figures walk across the background hill in the distance while the principals are up front. While Zeffirelli’s conception tends to scant the opera’s intimate scenes in the theatre, on DVD those scenes make heightened impact. TV director Gary Halvorson’s establishing shots show a cutaway of the bohemians’ little garret precariously poised atop a sharply raked house, but he soon cuts to closeups of the playing space and the singers, creating a sense of warm interplay of personalities unavailable to the theatre audience.

The MET provides a luxurious cast to complement the sumptuous setting. Tenor Ramón Vargas is an excellent Rodolfo, singing with passion, imaginative phrasing, and coloring his beautiful lyric voice to fit the text. Mimi is Angela Gheorghiu, always a stellar singing actress. Here she sings with a sensitivity to match her Rodolfo, exquisitely coloring her voice, as in her Mi chiamano Mimi, where she thins her voice at the start and then opens it out to bloom when she sings of the approach of spring. As an actress, she’s best after the first Act, when she abandons the coy, girlish tics that seem out of place. In the last Act, she’s profoundly moving in the death scene, as is Vargas, who is touching in his portrayal of Rodolfo’s desperation and sense of loss. Baritone Ludovic Tézier’s Marcello is well sung, as is soprano Ainhoa Arteta’s Musetta, the latter delivering a sparkling Quando me’n vo’ in the Café Momus scene. Rodolfo’s pals, Oren Gradus as Colline and Quinn Kelsey as Schaunard, are excellent, and veteran bass Paul Plishka contributes some nice comic turns as Benoit and Alcindoro. --Dan Davis

La Bohème is an all-regions disc in 16:9 ratio. Sound options include PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Surround. Sung in Italian, subtitles include English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Extras include backstage interviews by Renée Fleming and a short tribute, "Zeffirelli at the Met."

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Angela Gheorghiu, Ainhoa Arteta, Ramon Vargas, Ludovic Tezier, Quinn Kelsey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (DTS 5.1), Italian (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Italian, German, English, French, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Classics
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001DHE9KG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,665 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Britten - Peter Grimes (The Metropolitan Opera HD Live Series)

This DVD is a recording of the performance of La Boheme at the Met on April 5/2008 which was transmitted in HD worldwide. The first night was on 3/29th with the same cast, and the reviews in NY papers and the one here by Ivy Lin were based on the the opening night performance, not the one used on this disc. I attended the opening and agree with most of Ms. Lin's observations, i.e.: Vargas ' voice being "lyric,bright,ardent" hitting
the high C in Che Gelida Manina "delicately"; Gheorghiu's aggressiveness and sluttishness, and her being out of sync in her Act1 aria. I do not agree with her claim that Vargas was too chubby and phlegmatic to be a believable Rodolfo, but I tend to agree with her comments about the Mimi. I cannot blame Ms. Lin because I myself found Ms.Gheorghiu to be trying hard to appear too romantic and taken with her man. She practically mauled him at the Cafe Momus with her exuberance. I did not attend the April 5th performance but I listened to the PBS radio broadcast and saw the moviecast of the event,and was very happy with the positive changes and improvement over the opening night performance. The excessive touching, smooching and other distractions were toned down, and the musical matters went on smoothly.

This disc has outstanding video and audio worthy of the Met's 50-yr old classic Zeffirelli production with an ideal casting of Angela Gheorghiu and Ramon Vargas in the principal roles, supported by a fine mix of veterans and newcomers to the Met. Everyone in this line up is gifted with enormous talent, rich voice and fine musicality.
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I believe I own a copy of every commercial CD recording of "La Boheme," as well as several DVDs of live performances and this DVD is BY FAR my favorite. I even saw the Zeffirelli production at the Met live with Gheorghiu and Alagna the afternoon after they got married, but even that did not move me as this did. A performance that, after all this time and exposure to the opera, can leave me in tears is a rarity, and I was sobbing at the end of this video.

Every one of the six principals is magnificent, singing and acting gloriously. At first, I was concerned that the extremely expansive tempi Maestro Luisotti employs would enervate the production. But, while the tempo for "Mi chiamano Mimi," combined with the close-ups in HD of Angela Gheorghiu performing in the gigantic Metropolitan Opera House, does elicit some silent movie actress-like facial expressions and gestures from her, on the whole, these tempi allow each of the singers to bring a greater variety of coloration to their tones than one usually hears, which in turn only enhances the dramatic impact. For example, I usually find "O Mimi tu piu non torni" to be a pretty, but somewhat annoying, diversion before the drama of the final act commences. BUt under Maestro Luisotti and with the beautiful and sensitive singing of Ramon Vargas and Ludovic Tezier, it becomes one of the most moving moments of the opera. In fact, I was in tears throughout the final act. Every characters emotions were heartfelt and never schmaltzy or overheated.

Also with respect to coloration, Ms. Gheorghiu produced some of the darkest tones I have ever heard in "Donde lieta usci." While others have made this a pretty and nostalgic aria, Ms. Gheorghiu with subtlety rips out your heart just as Mimi's has been torn from her.
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Format: DVD
I have read the many reviews for all three of the Boheme performances that I currently own. What is quite clear is that each of them receives enthusiastic support by overwhelming numbers who see each as the definitive version! There are also those who totally dislike each version. There are also minor reservations voiced about each version by a handful of reviewers. So where does this leave the prospective new purchaser?

Firstly it is possible to suggest that there are at least 3 good versions available, all of which are likely to give great satisfaction to a great number of people. This is perhaps because this opera is such a fine creation that it enables the participants to rise to their best. So if there is a world class team engaged it is likely that you will get a world class result with little risk of failure.

Rather than give a detailed review of each version therefore I will attempt a general summary of the options based on these 3 productions. They are the two Zeffirelli productions at The Met and at La Scala. There is also the Copley production by way of comparison at the Royal Opera.
There are some key considerations in my opinion. Firstly the group of four men must work well as a team in addition to individual merits. Rodolfo, Mimi, Musetta and Marcello must also communicate strongly to each other in the same way. The end must be genuinely draining.

The Met performance delivers on all counts. Gheorghiu and Vargas both deliver a believable relationship with each other. All 4 men relate well to each other.
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