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PUCCINI: La Boheme - Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus - 2 CDs

PUCCINI: La Boheme - Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus - 2 CDs

$ 5.99 $ 9.99

Cast: Georgia Jarman (Soprano), Kevin Glavin (Bass), Fabio Capitanucci (Baritone), Christopher Schaldenbrand (Baritone), Denis Sedov (Bass), Fabio Maria Capitanucci (Baritone), Marcus Haddock (Tenor), Norah Amsellem (Soprano)

Mr. Spano's work offers proof that taking a fresh approach to an operatic staple need not come down simply to conducting it faster. If anything, his roomy tempos allow ample time for the singers to shape melodic lines and trade banter with naturalness and clarity. Even so, this is a crisp, richly textured performance. Mr. Spano is especially good at revealing musical structure: the layout of the phrases, what leads to what. --Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

Two things in particular make this recording noteworthy, and Robert Woods identified both of them in my interview with him: the ensemble spirit, and the dramatic veracity...What creates the veracity is detail, and this recording is filled with it. Try, for example, the start of act III. I love the slightly annoyed tone of the Customs Official's "Vengo!," the earthy "Hopplà!" of the milkmaids and carters, the apparent tipsiness of the revelers inside the tavern, and, upon Mimì's entrance, her breathlessness. No other recording paints as complete a picture as this. Another moment: in act IV, Marcello's response "Ah, miseria!" ("Ah, poverty") when asked by Musetta if there is any coffee or wine in the garret is heartbreaking, to the point that I am fogging up just thinking about it... You'll probably wait a long time before you hear a chorus and orchestra better prepared for La bohème than Atlanta's. It is good to know that the late Robert Shaw's legacy lives on. Spano is a non-interventionist conductor, but that's not to say that the conducting here is dull or routine. Telarc's engineering team has captured the "being there" feeling that audience members must have had. Indeed, entrances and exits, offstage effects, and the use of props are audible without creating distraction. There are many well-engineered recordings of this opera on the market, but I think this one is unique for the splendid way in which the live setting has been preserved. The verdict: keep your favorite recording(s) of La bohème by all means, but if you love this score, Telarc's new recording puts a fresh spin on it, so it deserves a high recommendation." --Fanfare

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