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3.8 out of 5 stars
Puccini - La Boheme
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Of course Puccini's La Boheme remains one of the most beloved
and enduring verisimo works in the operatic repertoire. Mr Villazon
and Ms. Nebretko seem to have a very lovely chemistry and are
having a wonderful success with both their careers. Their singing
in these roles is a positive addition to their previous collaborations,
and hopefully Nebretko will deepen her interpretations as she grows
as an artist.
I wanted to comment on several of the reviews which stated disappointment
in Villazon not singing the high C in 'Che Gelida Manina'. It is true
that in the score, the high note in that aria done in the written key
is a high C. But it is one note. If all your interest is in this or any
musical work, is a high note, then I fear you are missing the point! It
is the entire performance that is important. Almost every tenor takes
that devilishly difficult aria down a half step. If you are nervous about getting the high C, then your entire performance is going to be full of tension. Pavarotti, famous for his top notes, eventually also took the aria down a half step after cracking on that note in a live telecast performance from the Met. Placido Domingo also always sang the aria a half step lower, there is however an amusing story about a performance at the Met in which the conductor thought he would trick Domingo by taking the aria in the original key without telling him. Domingo, being an accomplished musician, immediately realized what the conductor had done and got through the aria. But Domingo said he wanted to strangle that conductor afterwards!! I don't think that ever happened again with Placido.
As for the top C at the end of the duet O Soave Fanciulla, that note is not in the score. Puccini wrote the lower note for the tenor deliberately as a beautiful harmony effect as the lovers voices fade into the distance. Sometimes both singers in live performances and recordings will take the top note together, sometimes it works, sometimes not. I personally prefer the original way Puccini wrote it, it makes the ending
of the duet haunting as Puccini intended it to be.
I do think that this recording will be well received and finds both
of these promising singers developing into deeper artists. And I hope
Amazon readers will see beyond the high notes, that there is more in
classical vocal music than a top note, it is a performance that touches
one's heart and soul that is the most endearing and enduring. And this
recording in my opinion, does that. Anthony Plumer
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Because it's recorded so often, La Boheme has accumulated a host of fine recordings, but this new one, made in Munich as a concert performance in 2007, doesn't quite rise to the top. It's been hyped for the pairing of Netrebko and Villazon and critically sneered at because Villazon doesn't dare the high C in 'Che gelida manina' or in the succeeding duet in Act 1. Listening on purely musical grounds, I think Villazon has proved himself at last: his is a fully realized, ardent Rodolfo who holds your attention from first to last. He's got personality, and his voice encompasses a lovely range of feelings.

Except for this one golden element, however, the rest varies from only average to very good. I'd put Netrebko in the very good department, for her beauty, steady stream of appealing tone, obvious chemistry with Villazon, and for the bald fact that opera needs new stars to survive. As a convincing Mimi, however, she's rather blank at times -- as in her various aria CDs, the Italian language isn't altogether congenial to her; tends to simply sings one word after another. The bottom line is that for all her positive qualities, for me Netrebko is essentially a Slavic soprano who will never be fully at home in Verdi or Puccini compared to so many great singers who have triumphed in their operas.

But is that so important? In the star-struck pairing of Alagna and Gheorghiu, she is the musical standout and he isn't; here the roles are reversed. As a romantic couple onstage, Netrebko and Villazon will continue to be big box office (if the tenor recovers from whatever vocal problems he's been afflicted with, and the rumored psycholgical distress linked to them). As for the rest of this Boheme, conductor De Billy is professional and has his moments of tenderness, giving a nice shape to Puccini's romantic lingering. The two other principals, Nicole Cabell as Musetta and Boaz Daniel as Marcello, won't be making any career breakthroughs here -- she is sturdy and steady but lacks charm; he is considerably better but doesn't stay in the mind. Orchestra and recorded sound are first-rate.

I'm surprised that only seven reviews have preceded this one -- did DG's media blitz fail to attract interest? For me, this La Boheme will be memorable as a musical step up for Villazon, who shines twice as bright as anyone else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 14, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This new version `La Boheme' is a risky investment. There are numerous top-notch recordings from first rate performers that the ante for the benchmark is really hard to surmount.
And in reality this recording does not succeed in surpassing some of its eminent predecessors. Rolando Villazon made a gallant effort in present Rodolfo, and his portrayal really is at par with other lyrical tenors in the class of Giuseppe di Stefano, but for the down-scaled aria in Act I. Even so, Villazon really stole the show in this CD recording with his poetic and passionate approach.
Others fare less well. There were high hopes for Anna Netrebko's Mimi, perhaps the only Puccini role that suits her lyrical soprano. While her singing did not disappoint in the basic aspects, for the more refined listeners it remain titled towards the crude side with regard to articulation as well as expression.
For the supporting roles, the most interesting bit of listening comes from Nicole Cabelle's delightful Musetta, who shows multiple auspices for a great Mimi, too. The voice is shimmering and elastic, signs of a truly great lyrical soprano in the making.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Another Boheme recording is probably not what every opera fan wants but this is not just another recording. We all know what Villazon/Netrebko can do and they do not disappoint , high c or not! The young American Cabell as Musetta is delightful and the DG recording is superb. I for one am happy to have these wonderful performances to enjoy. I look forward to the dvd.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I wasn't waiting to hear a high C in "Che gelida manina" this day's most of tenors never sing the high C!!
The record it's very good, Rolando and Anna are in a good shape, but i don't know! I'm feel that they have some out of tones mistakes, probably they make this production to fast!!
Any way it's a very good version!!
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on November 30, 2009
Format: Audio CD
These two artists just fit together perfectly. Both have warm personalities who have expressed rich emotion in their singing. Anna's voice is sometimes compared to other sopranos, but she really has a voice of her own-- a rich, perfectly-colored, expressive, unique gift which gives the listener much pleasure. Anna is a DIVA in her own right, although probably doesn't take the compliment seriously. She is the total perfect package to those who love opera vs.critics who would pick her performances or diction apart.
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Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This love story grips all those who view/hear it. I have read my share of love stories, but this one wins the prize.
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on November 17, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Puccini - La Boheme is a 2008 Deutsche Grammophon starring Anna Netrebko and Rollando Villazon. Betrand De Billy leads the Bavaria Symphony Orchestra. The booklet contains all the lyrics, many photographs and well-written music notes. Having listened to legends like Callas, Nilsson and the like; It is safe to say that Netrebko whilst being a good singer just does not have that little extra. The same can be said for Villazon. He is no Jussi Björling. Still I recommend this recording. Recommended. 4/5.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
I watched this on TV today; it was the BBC's "Christmas cultural offering" and very enjoyable. The Santa Fe listener's review is spot on: the stand-out here is Villazon (even if on film he looks rather louche, wild and unshaven, vocally he is impeccable) whereas Netrebko is as she always is: more than competent, beautiful of tone but rather bland - a voice very similar to, and almost as beautiful as, Mirella Freni's, without that artist's subtlety of shading, or ease and acuity with the text. The rest of the cast are also rather unmemorable, especially the baritone Boaz Daniel, whose Marcello pales beside predecessors such as Panerai - but the bass, Vitalij Kowaljow, is particularly impressive as Colline. Billy conducts sensitively and I can recommend this more heartily in its DVD form, as it is atmospherically directed and convincingly acted. Few people would be disappointed with it as an introduction to this evergreen opera - although some might miss the traditional high C's which Villazon eschews and for sheer listening either the Karajan (Pavarotti/Freni), Beecham (Björling/de los Angeles) or Votto (Callas/Di Stefano) versions are preferable.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2008
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I can understand how the die hards may not "appreciate" this release but for us casual opera fans I think this hits the mark. True it is a half step lower than the original and Rolando does not hit the high note at the end of O Suave Fancula, but aside from that we have opera's "IT" couple doing what they do best. And that is good enough for me.
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