"Ladies and gentlemen from all over the world, welcome to this brand new forum destined to all those opera lovers. It is my intention to create a cultural space to remember the great composers such as Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, as well as all the stars that walked through the most famous stages around the world like Caruso, Gigli, di Stefano, Pavarotti... I also intend this forum to be a debating space where readers can state their opinions, ideas, advises, likes and dislikes.

Through the last years opera has been losing popularity at the expense of more modern music, and though the heyday of the latter is a social and cultural worldwide phenomenon, it would be of great value to retrieve the transcendental meaning of opera in the history of man.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, may the world take its seat, let the curtain raise, come up to the stage with me and be the performers of this experience..."


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"La Bohème" (G. Puccini) - 2nd part: Background & Details

"La Bohème" is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger. It was in Turin on February 1, 1896 at the Teatro Regio that the world première performance of "La Bohème" took place conducted by the young Arutro Toscanini. In 1946, fifty years after the opera's première, Toscanini conducted a performance of it on U.S. radio, that was eventually released on records. It is the ony recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor.

There is another version of "La Bohème" composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo, but with his own libretto. This version, premiered in 1897, focuses more on the Musetta and Marcello relationship, rather than that of Mimì and Rodolfo as in Puccini's version.

Here I give a brief description of the characters involved and the Première Cast on February 1, 1896 conducted by Arturo Toscanini:

Rodolfo, a poet (tenor): Evan Gorgo
Mimì, a seamstress (soprano): Cesira Ferrani
Marcello, a painter (baritone): Tieste Wilmant
Schaunard, a musician (bariton): Antonio Pini-Corsi
Colline, a philosopher (bass): Michele Mazzara
Musetta, a singer (soprano): Camilla Pasini
Benoît, their landlord (bass): Alessandro Polonini
Alcindoro, a state councillor (bass): Alessandro Polonini
Parpignol, a toy vendor (tenor): Dante Zucchi
A customs Sergeant (bass): Felice Fogli

Students, working girls, townsfolk, shopkeepers, street-vendors, soldiers, waiters, children.

Among the enchanting arias and duettos we can highlight:

"Che gelida manina" - Rodolfo, Act I
"Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" - Mimì, Act I
"O soave fanciulla" - Rodolfo & Mimì, Act I
"Quando me n'vo soletta per la via" - Musetta, Act II
"Donde lieta uscì al tuo grido d'amore" - Mimì, Act III
"O Mimì tu più non torni" - Rodolfo & Marcello, Act IV
"Vecchia zimarra" - Colline, Act IV
"Sono andati? Fingevo di dormire" - Mimì, Act IV

The marvelous passages and orchestrations of "La Bohème" are scored for:

Woodwinds: 2 Flutes, Piccolo, 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais, 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons.
Brass: 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Bass trombone.
Percussion: Timpani, Drum, Triangle, Cymbal, Bass drum, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Campanelle.
Strings: Violins I & II, Viola, Violoncello, Contrabass.

The recommended discography for "La Bohème" is, in my opinion:
  • 1946; Jan Peerce, Licia Albanese, Francesco Valentino, George Cehanovsky, Nicola Moscona, Anne McKnight; Arturo Toscanini, MBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Line Music / Cantus Classics.

  • 1956 (rec. date); Giuseppe di Stefano, Maria Callas, Rolando Panerai, Manuel Spatafora, Nicolai Zaccaria, Anna Moffo; Antonino Votto, Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala di Milano; EMI Classics.

  • 1990; Luciano Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Rolando Panerai, Gianni Maffeo, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Elizabeth Harwood; Herber von Karajan, Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra; DECCA.

1 comment:

Chui said...

1956, Yes.
I remember clearly the voices of Di Stefano and Mmme Moffo.

But for today?

tell me..