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leoncavallo la boheme vs. puccini la boheme

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Showing 1-14 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 18, 2012 10:37:53 PM PST

it's now the 21't century andi think peeple shold be given a chance now and then to see and hear the other version and not be swayed by the oppinions of mahler and i think toscanini that the puccini is good and the leoncavallo is not so good, the same with meyerbeer and wagner people should be alowed to at least make up there own minds on these works and not be not alowed to see and/or hear them because some other music giants passed judgement on them that was unfavorable!

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 3:33:05 AM PST
Mandryka says:
I think Puccini's Boheme is very good, the crowd scene when Rodolfo buys Mimi a hat, and Act 3 especially. I find the Rodolfo/Marcello duet extremely moving. I think Puccini was a very great dramatic writer,

Leoncavollos's I know much less well. Pagliiacci is, for me, one of the major summits of Italian opera but his Boheme seemed disappointing in comparison. Maybe I should revisit it, maybe my judgement was hasty. It could just be that the best sngers have sang in Boheme -- Pavarotti for example.

Have you seen the Leoncavollo Boheme? Or are you involved with producing it or just listening to it on recordings or what?

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 4:44:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2012 4:48:24 AM PST
Leoncavallo's "Boheme" is a sound piece of work. Had not his buddy Puccini done him the dirty, Leoncavallo's opera would certainly be as much a part of the standard repertory as, say, "Andrea Chenier."

Puccini's opera, however, is a much stronger piece. This is, I think, because Leoncavallo's librettist, that is Leoncavallo, was not as skillful as the poor devils who suffered under Puccini's endless criticism and whiplashes.

Consider this, fairly early in the opera, Leoncavallo's Marcello, a tenor, smoothly convinces Musette to move in with him. Functionally, his aria is a dead ringer for Puccini's "Che gelida manina." I think the two arias could be exchanged between the two operas without doing a bit of harm to either one. Glaringly, however, Leoncavallo's aria is a stand alone item; it does not lead into a "Mi chiamo Mimi" or to an "O suave fanciulla." Puccini, on the other hand, has provided a tremendous soaring arc of a finale for his first act.

Puccini is also better at setting tone. Puccini gives us three acts which are immensely skillful blends of comedy and romantic drama. Only his Act III is unrelievedly tragic and all the more so for its contrast with the other acts. Leoncavallo follows a simpler and duller course. His first two acts are fairly uniformly frivolous while his last two acts are virtually swathed in gloom.

While I have never encountered the original book upon which the operas are based, I think that Puccini (with some help from his poets) was a better editor than Leoncavallo. I'd be willing to bet that Leoncavallo follows the original text more closely than Puccini, who almost obsessively focuses on the tragedy of Mimi. Such loyalty to the original was not to Leoncavallo's advantage.


Posted on Nov 19, 2012 5:43:54 AM PST

no i have not seen the leoncavallo version but i do have the live 1958 recording on myto
with bastianini and the 1983 studio recording on orfeo with popp and bonisolli(both are very good),i too know that as a work note for note the puccini opera is a better opera but i think that the oter one should at least be given a chance, perhaps some newer singers could make a mark in this and some of the other underperformed operas of that era and not always be found wanting in comparison to singers of the past in the roles of wagner ,verdi,puccini
(mozart and r.strauss singers seem to be given more of a chance nowadays which is a good thing)
in this same vain i hope next years verdi and wagner bi-centenials will give new singers a chance to make a splash perhaps in aroldo and/or rienzi both of which are with the right siners and stageing hits that could be !

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 12:38:51 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
I have Leoncavallo's "La Boheme" on CD but need to her it again before trying to say anything about it here. It's fascinating to me that there are complete recordings of Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci" and "Chatterton" made with La Scala singers around 1904-1905 with Leoncavallo himself su9pposedly conducting or at least present in the studio.

That's as historic and authentic as 'L'Amico Fritz" with Tagliavini and the two complete "Cavalleria Rusticnas", both with Lina Bruna Rasa, one live and one studio, conducted by Mascagni, the studio one with his soken introduction ... "Io sono Pietro Mascagni ... "

We need to get poster John Ruggiere on here.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 1:41:06 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
While I prefer the Puccini - I would recommend listening on YT to the Leoncavallo to determine if you wish to buy it. I saw the Leoncavallo over 30 years ago and was very impressed,

Marcello is a tenor in the Leoncavallo opera. Rico is the tenor of any recordings I know,
Enrico Caruso - Testa Adorata - La Boheme - Leoncavallo

For me - this is one of the greatest recordings ever made.
Enrico CARUSO. Io non ho che una povera stanzetta. La Bohème. Leoncavallo.

Heck here is the complete opera.
Marcello ( Angelo Lo Forese ( Loforese ) ), Rodolfo ( Guido Mazzini ), Schaunard ( Fernando Lidonni ), Barbemousche ( Giorgio Tadeo ), Visconte Paolo ( Osvaldo Scrigna ), Colline ( Osvaldo Scrigna ), Gaudenzio ( Walter Brunelli ), il signore del primo piano ( Antonio Petrini ), Musette ( Bianca Maria Casoni ), Mimì ( Florida Assandri Norelli ), Eufemia ( Maja Sunara ). Dir.Pietro Argento.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 3:12:38 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
I believe there are recordings, perhaps by Cruso, where the singer is accompanied on iano by Cilea, Mascagni, &tc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 19, 2012 3:20:14 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
Edgar Self says:

I believe there are recordings, perhaps by Cruso, where the singer is accompanied on iano by Cilea, Mascagni, &tc
Yes - mostly the early stuff @1901 -1910. After dinner I will look for specifics. Rico gave the composers Xtra status and sales.


Posted on Nov 19, 2012 6:11:32 PM PST
thanks for finding that 1963 peformance it is a good one and the sound is not bad i do not think i have ever seen this version on old lps or on cds i hope myto or walhall will put it out.

Posted on Nov 19, 2012 7:28:26 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
Rico and composer at the piano.

ENRICO CARUSO - 1902 - no, più nobile - Adriana Lacouvreur - CILEA

Enrico Caruso & Ruggero Leoncavallo - Mattinata

I thought there were more -will check more.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 4:02:42 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 5:02:46 PM PST
Larkenfield says:
Since other Leoncavallo works have been mentioned,
here's one from Pagliacci that I would hope everyone
gets a chance to hear at least once in his or her lifetime.

Enrico Caruso - Vesti la Giubba

Fantastic voice. Just fantastic.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 10:36:09 PM PST
Mandryka says:
I prefer McCracken and Vickers as Canio to Caruso.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 5:20:46 AM PST

any one like zaza or i medici?
i thought the newer domingo recording of i medici on dg was very good and the 1978 radio recording of zaza on the gala label was just fine it was good to be abel to discover two unkown operas like this.

Posted on Nov 22, 2012 5:01:46 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
While we all wish from time to time that we could hear more of the lesser known operas, the fact is most of them aren't produced or recorded, not because some other composer or some famous conductor dissed them, but because audiences have found them lacking in something when they've attended a rare performance. Not infrequently, the negative judgment of history is even found back at the very beginning of an opera's public existence, with critics and audiences unimpressed or disappointed. The great success of Puccini's Boheme isn't the reason for the benign neglect of Leoncavallo's version, which has its own, lesser attractions, but the fact that most opera lovers simply aren't interested in it. Most opera companies, by and large, can't afford to mount too many operas they know are unlikely to draw full houses. They are more likely to try producing a newly composed opera over something that hasn't been a success in the past wherever it's been presented.

On the positive side, Italy has produced some recordings over the years of these lesser operas and they are just about the only way one is going to experience most of these works.

I heard a "live" Zaza once on the radio and rather enjoyed it while listening, but I do remember it wasn't particularly melodic and I feel no real need to ever hear it again.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  7
Total posts:  14
Initial post:  Nov 18, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 22, 2012

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