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John Copley's enduring production of one of the most famously melodious and popular of all operas is a classic of the Royal Opera repertory. With historically accurate designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and an excellent cast headed by Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai, this 2009 revival, in which conductor Andris Nelsons makes a distinguished Royal Opera House debut, does full justice to Puccini's masterpiece.Press Reviews
"In every sense this Bohème glows. John Copley's legendary staging with sets by Julia Trevelyan Oman, first seen in 1972, is renowned for its authenticity and detail, both architectural and human. Full of telling little touches - the artist Marcello's Act II girlfriend is his Act IV model - they bring 19th-century Paris's bustle alive as effectively as any BBC classic...This latest incarnation, betraying no trace of staleness, has no such stellar names - yet! -except perhaps Andris Nelsons, boisterous where precursor Lamberto Gardelli was nostalgic. Instead it offers a vibrant new ensemble, improbably youthful and good-looking...On DVD it looks and sounds wonderful - but on Blu-Ray it's breathtaking. 1982 is a memorable vintage, but La bohème nouvelle est arrivée - a new recommendation. " (BBC Music Magazine ★★★★)
"This release is a delight. It features their current production which has been doing the rounds since the early 1970s, here revived by the original director himself. Copley's production is traditional and beautiful, its chief concern being to tell the story directly. In December 2009 some criticised it for looking a little worn and shabby. Don’t believe a word of it! In the close-up of the screen it looks neat, fresh and as good as new, every piece of furniture and inch of set design serving the purpose of the drama nicely...Opus Arte's usual high standards are maintained in the presentation and title menus, and there are brief interviews with Nelsons and Copley about the production. There are many Bohèmes available on DVD, but this one is as recommendable as any, and it feels good to be able to say this about such a home-grown product. Covent Garden have kept this production for so long because it works so well, and I think that anyone with this DVD in their collection would feel the same way. " (Musicweb International)
"Gerzmava is clear in tone and clean in style, the Rodolfo (Teodor Ilincai) light and unforced but wanting richness. All act naturally and well, Jacques Imbrailo (the Schaunard) with panache." (Gramophone)
"I adore John Copley's classic production of this opera, which has now been in the repertory at Covent Garden for forty years. This version comes from 2009, and features Teodor Ilincai and Hibla Gerzmava as a sensitive pair of lovers. In the pit, Andris Nelsons draws sumptuous, refined playing from the orchestra. " (Presto Classical)Cast
Hibla Gerzmava (Mimi)
Teodor Ilincai (Rodolfo)
Gabriele Viviani (Marcello)
Donald Maxwell (Alcindoro)
Inna Dukach (Musetta)
Kostas Smoriginas (Colline)
Jacques Imbrailo (Schaunard)
Jeremy White (Benoit)
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Andris Nelsons
Company: The Royal Opera
Stage Director: John Copley
Catalogue Number: OA1027D
Date of Performance: 2009
Running Time: 121 minutes
Sound: 2.0 PCM & 5.1 DTS
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, IT
Label: Opus Arte
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I will, however, award the production three stars for outstanding sets and costumes, and resume my search for an acceptable Boheme on Blu Ray. Overpriced and definitely not recommended.
Opus Arte Blu-ray Disc
Puccini's La Boheme is one of the most beloved operas of all time, and rightfully so. Therefore, as one would expect, there are already many fine performances of Boheme available on DVD including, for example, the 2003 La Scala performance with Marcelo Alvarez and Cristina Gallardo-Domas, and the older, but still impressive, 1967 La Scala performance with a young Mirella Freni and Gianni Raimondi. In my opinion, however, this new Blu-ray DVD of a 2009 Royal Opera House performance, starring Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava as Mimi and Rumanian tenor Teodor Ilincai as Rodolfo, deserves to go to the top of the list. Here's my rationale:
First; the mostly youthful cast brings a joie de vivre to their performances that is very appropriate and that compliments both the music and the Bohemian characters they are portraying. And equally important: they all sing beautifully! (It should be noted that veteran bass, Donald Maxwell, brings a comedic style to his Act II portrayal of the aging roué, Alcindoro, that is genuinely funny.)
Second; conductor Andris Nelsons keeps the music moving along at an appropriate pace while also providing the singers with tempos and dynamic shadings that allow them some latitude in the delivery of their big numbers.
Third; the scenery, costuming, staging and lighting are effective and tastefully traditional, and add considerably to the visual experience.
Fourth; the quality of the sound and the picture on this Blu-ray disc is state-of-the-art excellent.
And finally; the extras include separate interviews with conductor Nelsons and stage director John Copely, both of whom have informative and interesting things to say.
All in all, a marvelous package for opera lovers that definitely passes the goose-bump test!
As it happens, the rest of this performance is on the same level! This production dates from 1974, but you would never guess it by looking at it. Full of freshness and vitality--hats off to John Copley. It looks like no expense was spared in the sets and especially in the costumes. And here is another interesting lesson for those who have the eyes to see: This is very much a "traditional" staging: no regietheater, no gimmicks. What it shows us is that quality and substance and even timelessness are to be found in a devoted probity to the music, to the original concept--the triumph of love over egoism and over a creativity/originality that is more or less for its own sake.
The singers: In Puccini you want power, but not at the expense of beauty, whereas in Wagner, for example, we will willingly sacrifice some in vocal beauty to obtain the heldentenor or heldensoprano effects. In the singers here you get both the beauty and the drama. Teodor Ilincai as Rodolfo: very fine dramatic tenor with a strong, clear top, equally fine in quiet passages. Also a very good actor. His Rodolfo is not the "romantic poet" type as we picture that type, but more a sensitive "boy next door". Of the four Bohemians living in the loft, he seems like the "normal" one amongst three other "characters". Mimi, Hibla Gerzmava, is herself a "girl next door" type. Frankly, I've not seen Gerzmava's equal as Mimi. (!) Gorgeous and expressive voice and portrayal. The simple and modest love between these two contrasts vividly with the tempestuous romance between Marcello and Musetta. Inna Dukach is lights-out as Musetta: You get the feeling that she IS Musetta, not a singer-actress portraying Musetta. She gloriously owns Act II, and yet, because their love is of a different kind, Rodolfo and Mimi are never overshadowed by her. You absolutely HAVE to see Dukach here: unforgettable. No let-down in the other singers either, or in their acting. (I could go on about each one, but I am getting tired of typing and you are probably getting tired of reading this.)
If you own other Boheme dvds, as I do, you MUST still buy this one; it goes right to the top.
No surprise, the opera-loving parents loved it. Sound and picture-quality is crisp and full (looks beautiful on a big screen), the leads breathe life into the roles and sing BEAUTIFULLY, the production value is impressive, lots of goosebumps throughout -- but what I wasn't expecting was crying like freakin Julia Roberts at the opera in Pretty Woman during Rodolfo's aria to Mimi -- it was so darn pretty! For such a famous piece, it was like i was hearing it for the first time, like i finally "got" it. Ilinca as Rodolfo is dreamy, genuine, tender and passionate. It was the first time i watched a full opera and now i'm kinda hungry for more!
Opera experts, by all means make your own educated decision -- Opera novices like me who don't know where to start? -- just buy it!!!
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