Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Puccini: La Boheme (1972/2014) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Herbert von Karajan, Berliner Philharmoniker – Puccini: La Bohème (1972/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:50:00 minutes | 2,05 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front cover | © Decca Music Group Ltd.

The role of Rodolfo from Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème launched Luciano Pavarotti’s career in 1961 when he made his professional debut in a small regional production in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He would revisit the role several times over his career, including this 1972 album considered to be one of the finest versions of La Bohème ever recorded. Equally impressive here is Pavarotti’s childhood friend Mirella Freni as Mimi. Conductor Herbert von Karajan proves himself a masterful, sensitive interpreter of Puccini as he leads the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

There is no lack of stellar, gripping versions of La bohème on disc, and by most reckonings, this one stands toward the front of the pack. Having a cast of superstars is no guarantee that an opera recording is going to have the chemistry to knock you off your feet, but the performers here live up to the expectations that their fame raises. Luciano Pavarotti is an ardent Rodolfo; his youthful impetuosity is completely convincing, and he sings with the passionate but unforced creaminess that characterized his performances at the height of his career. Mirella Freni is also vocally in top form. Her Mimi is deeply felt and her voice is sweet, pure, and soaringly lyrical. Rolando Panerai was into middle age when he made this recording, but he is persuasively youthful and he sings with warmth and vigor as Marcello. Elizabeth Harwood is more effective in Musetta’s serious moments than in her fiery ones, but she has a very lovely floating top. The smaller roles are exceptionally well taken; it’s real luxury casting to have an artist of Nicolai Ghiaurov’s caliber as Colline, and Michel Sénéchal is marvelously funny as Benoit and Alcindoro. The Chorus of the Deutschen Oper, Berlin, sings with a great sense of character, and the Berlin Philharmonic plays as if this quintessentially Italianate music was in its blood. Herbert von Karajan leads an extraordinarily nuanced and expressive reading of the score. Felicitous details of orchestration that are frequently lost are clearly audible here, often to revelatory effect. Decca’s sound is exemplary in its clarity and depth. Its engineers are scrupulous in their stereo separation; the stage movement is so precisely calibrated that it’s easy to tell the spatial relationship between characters. This altogether exceptional version has much to recommend it to fans of the opera, and listeners coming to it for the first time could hardly find a more compelling introduction.


01 – Act 1: Questo Mar Rosso
02 – Act 1: Pensier profondo
03 – Act 1: Abasso, abbasso l’autor!
04 – Act 1: Si puo…Chi e la?
05 – Act 1: Io resto
06 – Act 1: Chi e la?
07 – Act 1: Si sente meglio?
08 – Act 1: Che gelida manina
09 – Act 1: Si. Mi chiamano Mimi
10 – Act 1: O soave fanciulla
11 – Act 2: Arranci, datteri!
12 – Act 2: Chi guardi?..- Ecco i giocattoli di Parpignol
13 – Act 2: Viva Parpignol…Una cuffietta a pizzi
14 – Act 2: Oh!…Essa!…Musetta!
15 – Act 2: Quando m’en vo’
16 – Act 2: Chi l’ha richiesto?
17 – Act 3: Ohe, la, le guardie!…Aprite!
18 – Act 3: Sa dirmi, scusi
19 – Act 3: Mimi! – Speravo di trovarvi qui
20 – Act 3: Marcello. Finalmente!
21 – Act 3: Mimi e una civetta
22 – Act 3: Mimi e tanto malata!
23 – Act 3: Donde lieta usci
24 – Act 3: Dunque: e proprio finita!…Addio, dolce svegliare
25 – Act 4: In un coupe?
26 – Act 4: O Mimi, tu piu non torni…Che ora sia
27 – Act 4: Gavotta
28 – Act 4: C’e Mimi…
29 – Act 4: Vecchia zimarra, senti
30 – Act 4: Sono andati
31 – Act 4: Oh Dio! Mimi! …Che avvien?

Mirella Freni – Mimi
Luciano Pavarotti – Rodolfo
Nicolai Ghiaurov – Colline
Elizabeth Harwood – Musetta
Rolando Panerai – Marcello
Gianni Maffeo – Schaunard)
Michel Sénéchal – Alcindoro/Benoit
Gernot Pietsch – Parpignol
Hans-Dieter Appelt – Sergente dei doganieri
Hans-Dietrich Pohl – Un doganiere
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus of German Opera Berlin – Conducted by Herbert von Karajan