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Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, June 2002

"There are dozens of Bohèmes on the market but this one, now 63 years old, holds a special place in Puccini-lovers' hearts. It captures Licia Albanese at the start of her career, and while it is clear from this that she never actually sounded young, her enthusiasm, artistry, and superb technique make her a near-ideal Mimi (30 years later Mirella Freni, with a voice of similar weight but far more beauty, began to own the role in very much the same way). Partnering her is Beniamino Gigli-simply ravishing, embodying the energetic, youthful, fun-loving Rodolfo in magic ways, singing with great pathos later in the opera as well. Afro Poli's Marcello is very good too; he sounds the role. The minor Tatiana Menotti is a perky Musetta, and she rightly dominates the big Act 2 ensemble without ever making us want to hear her sing another part.

"The rest of the cast is good and Umberto Berrettoni leads the La Scala forces and the singers with great sympathy. There are other more interesting Bohèmes available (Freni and Pavarotti with Karajan, de los Angeles and Björling under Beecham), but none so well captures a certain oft-elusive youthfulness and charm quite the way this one does. Perhaps it shouldn't be anyone's only recording of Bohème, but its echt Italian-ness and spirit are glorious. The second CD offers 10 arias sung by Albanese, ranging from Scarlatti to Cilea, and is a nice bonus."



Michael Oliver
Gramophone, July 2001

"The great pleasure of this famous recording is of course Gigli's Rodolfo: at 48 his voice was still in pristine condition, if slightly narrow and reedy as recorded here. Although he had been singing the role for years his interpretation is wonderfully fresh, filled with delightful, seemingly improvised touches: a winning smile on the voice in Act I at 'I'm not alone; there are two of us'; when Albanese's Mimi thanks him for re-lighting her candle he murmurs a polite 'prego' ('don't mention it'). But this is a company performance as well (or Gigli's good-humoured embellishments are catching): when Colline jokingly boasts of his appointment with Guizot the others respond with the equivalent of 'Guizot? Who he"; there is audible anticipation when Schaunard says that 'the streets of the Latin Quarter are adorned with sausages and other delicacies'. The others are no mere supporting cast, with Poli a characterful Marcello and Menotti a shrill but sensitive Musetta...

As Mimi the voice is appropriately girlish, touchingly so when she fines her tone down to intimacy in the last act and elsewhere... There are few signs of these flaws in her exquisitely phrased accounts of Liu's arias and of 'Un bel di', and her tone has a beautiful sheen in the Adriana Leconvrenr aria... On various labels there are about half-a-dozen CD versions of this Boheme on the market at present, but for an insight into why Albanese was so admired the new one has a special value. "



Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, May 2001

"There are dozens of Bohèmes on the market but this one, now 63 years old, holds a special place in Puccini-lovers' hearts. It captures Licia Albanese at the start of her career, and while it is clear from this that she never actually sounded young, her enthusiasm, artistry, and superb technique make her a near-ideal Mimi (30 years later Mirella Freni, with a voice of similar weight but far more beauty, began to own the role in very much the same way). Partnering her is Beniamino Gigli-simply ravishing, embodying the energetic, youthful, fun-loving Rodolfo in magic ways, singing with great pathos later in the opera as well. Afro Poli's Marcello is very good too; he sounds the role. The minor Tatiana Menotti is a perky Musetta, and she rightly dominates the big Act 2 ensemble without ever making us want to hear her sing another part.

"The rest of the cast is good and Umberto Berrettoni leads the La Scala forces and the singers with great sympathy. There are other more interesting Bohèmes available (Freni and Pavarotti with Karajan, de los Angeles and Björling under Beecham), but none so well captures a certain oft-elusive youthfulness and charm quite the way this one does. Perhaps it shouldn't be anyone's only recording of Bohème, but its echt Italian-ness and spirit are glorious. The second CD offers 10 arias sung by Albanese, ranging from Scarlatti to Cilea, and is a nice bonus."






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8:34:43 PM, 30 August 2014
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