Puccini: La boheme

COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Puccini
WORKS: La boheme
PERFORMER: Freni, Raimondi, Marti no; La Scala Chorus & Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan;dir. Franco Zeffirelli (La Scala, Milan, 1967)
CATALOGUE NO: 073 027-9 ADD
For many, part of the success of Zeffirelli’s 1965 film version of his 1963 Boheme production for La Scala lies, perhaps ironically, in it largely retaining the feel of the stage. Only Act Us bustling Christmas market gives the impression of being a film, with its hoards of mute extras brought to life by ‘off-screen’ chorus-singing. There is, however, much else to enjoy — the quality of singing all round, the camaraderie and buffoonery of the bohemians, and the evocative, traditional sets and costumes. Perhaps less satisfyingly represented through Zeffirelli’s camera is the closing quartet of Act III, where Rodolfo and Mimi’s resolve to stay together temporarily is beshadowed by Marcello and Musetta’s interspersed bickering. The audio dubbing is often far from flawless, and extra features go no further than the provision of subtitles in five languages. But as a classic production, this fully deserves its reissue on DVD. Edward Bhesania

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