Puccini: La bohème (in English)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: La bohème (in English)
PERFORMER: Cynthia Haymon, Dennis O’Neill, Alan Opie, Marie McLaughlin; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir, Peter Kay Children’s Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3008(2)
This English-language edition of Puccini’s classic uses a revised version (by the conductor David Parry) of the standard old translation, which sounds a little stiff in places. The opera goes well in English, with the quick repartee of the banter between the Bohemians and bustle of the Café Momus coming over with unusual immediacy. For the most part the cast makes a good deal of the text, especially Alan Opie’s live wire of a Marcello, while William Dazeley’s Schaunard does his dead parrot routine brilliantly.

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Vocally, too, this is a very good performance, with Dennis O’Neill’s Rodolfo unfailingly stylish, even if he’s not in the first flush of vocal youth. Marie McLaughlin is a vivacious Musetta, and Andrew Shore is sheer perfection in his double act as Benoit and Alcindoro. Cynthia Haymon’s Mimì rises to the emotional tragedy of the later scenes though earlier on sherather colourless. Alastair Miles is a solid but dull Colline.

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Good work from the chorus throughout, and top-quality playing from the Philharmonia. But while Parry’s conducting moves nicely for the most part, he’s inclined to let the slower music, such as the second half of Act I, drag a little. George Hall