Revisited with the benefit of Audio Research SP15 and in 24/192.
This is in my eyes (and ears) one of the few cases where the MFSL version is devasting better than the original.
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Performer: Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicolai Ghiaurov
Orchestra: Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Number of Discs: 2
Label: MFSL (Decca)
Size: 4.19 GB
Just play this and sit back with closed eyes and enjoy this best ever recording of La Boheme – don’t bother to try to seek out blemishes….there absolutely are none.
The score for La Bohème comes to glowing life under Herbert von Karajan’s baton, and Mirella Freni and Luciano Pavarotti make beautiful music together as the ill-fated lovers. The smaller parts are wonderfully sung, the comedy sharply profiled, and the pathos contained in such a way that the opera’s ending proves remarkably gripping. London’s sound is excellent. –Ted Libbey
This is one of the best opera recordings ever produced. For more than a decade, Freni-Pavarotti ruled the interpretation of Mimì and Rodolfo of this opera. This is absolutely the best La Bohème recording available, although some may argue that sometimes Karajan’s tempi may be a little bit slow. But Karajan shows his meticulosity in this recording by showing all the poetry and dramatical concept of this opera. The orchestra just sounds perfect, and the singers Freni, Pavarotti and Panerai are exactly Mimì, Rodolfo and Marcello. The combination between Freni and Pavarotti, the way they merge they voices together, is absolutely magic and essential for the results of this recording, because they have the adequate voices for both roles. Panerai sings the nicer Marcello of all, and Ghiaurov nails his Colline role, while Harwood delivers another great role as Musetta, despite her lack of perfect Italian, but with a lot of expressiveness.
All of which is to set up my claim that Freni/Pavarotti are the ones who truly deliver the goods in this virtually impossible-to-sing scene. While di Stefano’s voice has a marvelous bronze gleam and crisp pronunciation, he simply doesn’t have the sheer tone power to compete with the strength of Puccini’s melodies. When Rodolfo sings “In te ravviso / Il sogno ch’io vorrei sempre sognar!”, the heroic notes demand that the tenor produce a sound that you would follow into battle. Here Pav unforgettably brings da noise – and “Yes, Giorgio” is forgiven all over again.
Freni is equally virtuosic in the soprano’s milieu, somehow managing to convey a waifish bohemian as she robustly full-lungs her way through some of the most cruelly exposed high notes in the music. And how euphoniously their two instruments mesh in the duets! How confidently they surf the surging waves of Karajan’s conducting!
I don’t know what else to say except that it’s all here. Every component of the recorded operatic experience – composer, conductor, musicians, and singers – exercising mastery at world-class levels. There is nothing to impede the plucking of your heartstrings until they fray and snap. If you can listen to the final offstage “Amor!” with dry eyes, there is something dead inside you – I’m sorry to say. I’m verklempt now just thinking about it.
So, yes – all the raves here are true. This is not just the best “Boheme”, but one of the best opera recordings ever made. You know what to do.
Analyzed folder: /192k Puccini – MFSL La Boheme – Freni-Pavarotti
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR15 -0.40 dB -22.59 dB sideA.aif
DR14 -0.42 dB -20.37 dB sideB.aif
DR14 -0.50 dB -20.51 dB sideC.aif
DR17 -0.82 dB -24.01 dB sideD.aif
Number of files: 4
Official DR value: DR15
- Choir – Schöneberger Boys Choir*
- Chorus – Chorus Of The Deutsche Oper, Berlin*
- Chorus Master – Walter Hagen-Groll
- Composed By – Giacomo Puccini
- Conductor – Herbert von Karajan
- Engineer – Colin Moorfoot, Gordon Parry, James Lock (2)
- Libretto By – Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica
- Orchestra – Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra*
- Other [Stylistic Adviser] – Antonio Tonini
- Producer – James Mallinson, Ray Minshull
- Vocals [A Custom-house Official] – Hans-Dietrich Pohl
- Vocals [Benoit, Alcindoro] – Michel Senechal*
- Vocals [Colline] – Nicolai Ghiaurov
- Vocals [Marcello] – Rolando Panerai
- Vocals [Mimi] – Mirella Freni
- Vocals [Musetta] – Elizabeth Harwood
- Vocals [Parpignol] – Gernot Pietsch
- Vocals [Rodolfo] – Luciano Pavarotti
- Vocals [Sergeant] – Hans-Dieter Appelt
- RCM: Okki Nokki (L’art du son, Clearaudio’s Diamond Cleaner)
- TT: Vintage (1982) Yamaha PX-3
- Cartridge: Sumiko Black Bird
Cartridge: ZYX 50R Bloom
- Phono amp: Audio Research SP15 own tube phono section.
- ADC/DAC: RME Fireface UC
- Pre Amp: Audio Research SP15
- Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
- Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
- Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
- Software: iZotope RX 4 Advanced, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
- Super light de-clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no de-noising
- DR-Analisys before converting to Flac
- Converting Wave -> Flac: Twisted Wave 1.9
- Artwork: Sony Alpha 350, Epson Perfection V750 Pro, Photoshop CS 5.5
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