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Cat. No. CHAN 3008(2) Price: £18 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 3008 - Puccini: La Boheme
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Puccini: La Boheme

Outstanding soprano Cynthia Haymon sings the lead role in this premiere recording in English of La bohème

This recording is part of Chandos’ Opera in English series, made in association with the Peter Moores Foundation. This will be the most comprehensive collection of Opera in English recordings undertaken by a recording company, and a major addition to the general record catalogue.

Born on 23 December 1858 in Lucca, Italy, Puccini was the fifth of seven children. By the age of seventeen he began composing in earnest, writing organ pieces that were largely the result of improvisations, and into which he worked snatches of Tuscan folk songs and Verdi operas. A performance of Aïda in 1876 made such an impact that he followed his instincts and began to compose opera. It was four years before he could leave Lucca for Milan, the mecca for aspiring young composers.

Bohème was the first of three operas in which Puccini collaborated with the librettists Illica and Giacosa, an association referred to by Puccini’s publisher Ricordi as the ’Holy Trinity’. Although it was undoubtedly a volatile combination, it was perhaps the best team of poets Puccini had in his entire career. Its first performance in England was in Manchester in 1897, in English, followed by a performance at Covent Garden in the same year. It was well received in Manchester but the Covent Garden performance was not and was dismissed by the press as "not stimulating enough to be heard often".

Because of its mixture of light-hearted and sentimental scenes and largely conversational style, its display of impressionist features in it harmony and orchestration, La bohème was not opera in the expected vein. It was particularly castigated for the consectutive fifths at the opening of Act III. Now it is generally regarded as Puccini’s masterpiece.

The language of the first English performance was criticized for its textual shortcomings and was soon revised. This recording uses the original ENO version by William Grist and Percy Pinkerton with amendments by David Parry.

Reviews

"David Parry and the Philharmonia are the real heroes here. There is a real dramatic flair from the start to the very end of Puccini’s best-loved stage-work... Well worth purchasing ..."
Bill Newman - Hi-Fi News & Reviews - November 1998

 

                              Performance ****          Sound *****
"... Cynthia Haymon is an ideal Mimi, clear-toned and winsome yet rising to the intensity of Act II and the final scene with a real sense of Puccinian phrasing ... "
Michael Scott Rohan - Classic CD - September 1998


"...Cynthia Haymon is a touching Mimi, worthy of comparison many sopranos who have recorded the role in Italian... David Parry conducts with real passion, the recording is first class."
Classic FM - October 1998


"...The outstanding feature is the wonderful playing of the Philharmonia and the way the opera is conducted by David Parry. Tempi are just right and he gives scrupulous attention to all kinds of orchestral detail. We rarely hear such a superb Puccini interpretation these days at the Royal Opera and the ENO. The recorded balance between singers and orchestra is superlative, as is the clarity. A very recommendable issue, no matter how many other Bohèmes you may have."
Michael Kennedy - The Sunday Telegraph - 12 July 1998

                        Performance ***          Sound ****
"...The opera goes well in English with the quick repartee of the banner between the Bohemians and bustle of the Café Momus coming over with unusual immediacy... the cast makes a good deal of the text, especially Alan Opie’s live wire of a Marcello, while William Dazely’s Schaunard does his dead parrot routine brilliantly. Vocally, too, this is a very good performance, with Dennis O’Niell’s Rodolfo unfailingly stylish ... Marie McLaughlin is a vivacious Musetta, and Andrew Shore is sheer perfection in his double act as Benoit and Alcindoro. Cynthia hayman’s Mimi rises to the emotional tragedy of the later scenes... Good work from the chorus throughout, and top-quality playing from the Philharonia ..."
George Hall - BBC Music magazine - December 2002

"...Altogether an excellent introduction to the old tear-jerker."
John Higgins - The Times - 2 July 1998
 

"...A well integrated, dedicated cast, all its members versed in their roles, delivers the ever-popular work with real dash and fervour ... Parry turns in his best work to date for the series with a big-boned, passionate reading that is also observant of the detail and dynamic contrasts of Puccini’s score."
Alan Blyth - Opera - October 1998

"...this set is notable above all for David Parry’s outstandingly fine interpretation which draws wonderfulplaying from the Philharmonia ... The singing is first-rate too..."
The Sunday Telegraph - 6 December 1998

"This is the best that I’ve heard yet in Chandos’ series of Opera in English… Alastair Miles is superb…"
Henry Fogel - Fanfare - November/December 1998

 

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