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ISBN 1884822835 / 9781884822834 / 1-884822-83-5Find This Book
Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème, a bittersweet story of love and loss among the youthful Bohemians of Paris's Left Bank, has long been a major portal to lyric theater. Countless operatic novices have been won over by its seductive combination of ravishing tunes and a classic, tragic love story: boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy loses girl, girl dies. La Bohème is one of those seemingly foolproof operas that can survive any number of performance disasters, from dreadful directorial concepts to bad casting and abysmal conducting, and still come out all right. The story of the little seamstress Mimi; her lover, the poet Rodolfo; and the painter Marcello and his inflammatory relationship with Musetta, a lady of negotiable virtue, has staying power that is lifted by Puccini's melodic gift.
In the Black Dog Opera Library we have a useful new tool for operatic education. La Bohème, like the rest of the volumes in the Library, offers a good-looking, well-made book with an informative introductory essay about the composer and the work, lots of pictures, and a complete libretto in Italian and English. There is even a complete recording of the opera, featuring a cast of name singers. In this particular case, the recording is the 1963 EMI/Angel version that was remastered in 1991. The Italian soprano Mirella Freni--surely the outstanding Mimi of our time--sings irresistibly; she is well-matched by the strong Rodolfo of the great Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda and the macho Marcello of Mario Sereni. One unfortunate weakness of this set is that the names of the other performers aren't given, and they ought to be. One will have to check a guide to recordings to discover that Mariella Adani is the Musetta, Ferruccio Mazzoli enacts the touching Colline, and Mario Basiola Jr. is Schaunard. All are energetically conducted by the late Thomas Schippers. [via]