HD-Vinyls 24/96 (Orfeo) Ruggiero Leoncavallo – La Bohème (Popp/Bonisolli)

Reposted, now on FF

# Composer: Ruggiero Leoncavallo
# Performer: Franco Bonisolli, Bernd Weikl, Lucia Popp, Alexandrina Milcheva, Alan Titus
# Orchestra: Munich Radio Orchestra
# Conductor: Heinz Wallberg
# Vinyls (1982)
# Number of Discs: 3
# Format: FLAC
# Label: Orfeo
# DR-Analysis: DR 17
# ASIN: B000028AWG
# Size: 2.58 GB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory

Puccini’s “La Boheme” was produced in Turin on February 1, 1896. Although Leoncavallo seems to have begun writing first, his opera followed in Venice on May 6, 1897. “Since that time,” wrote Silvia Camerini in an essay that accompanied another recorded version of this opera, “a simplistic and senseless mistake has always been made: that of comparing the two Bohemes. Indeed, apart from the common source of their inspiration, the artistic personalities of the two composers and the consequent interpretations are so different and distinct one from the other as to render any serious comparison impossible.” That statement surely earns both the fur-lined teacup and the leather medal for being one of the most fatuous statements in the famously fatuous literature of opera. How can anyone NOT compare the two Bohemes?

Here is Leoncavallo’s plot:

— Act 1. Rodolfo (baritone), Mimi, Marcello (tenor), Musette and friends are having a Christmas Eve party at the Cafe Momus. They have trouble paying the bill.

— Act 2. Musette is behind on her rent and is being evicted from her apartment. Her furniture has been placed in the street. Marcello sympathizes and invites her to move in with him. They decide to have a party right there in the street. During the party, Mimi is approached by Visconte Paolo who offers her love and a life of luxury. Tired of living in poverty with Rodolfo in his garret, Mimi joins him (reluctantly).

— Act 3. Musette loves Marcello but she is fed up with being poor. She is about to leave when Mimi appears. Mimi has come to beg Rodolfo to take her back. While the two women talk, Marcello comes in. Musette tells him she is leaving. An argument ensues. Marcello becomes convinced that her betrayal has been caused by Mimi. When Rodolfo turns up, Marcello denounces Mimi to him. Rodolfo refuses to hear Mimi’s denials and tells her that his love for her is dead.

— Act 4. Christmas time again, Marcello tells Rodolfo he has written a letter asking for Musette’s return but has received no reply. Mimi appears. She has been cast aside by the Visconte and has become sick. Having nothing and nowhere else to go, she begs to stay the night. They take her in but are distraught that they can do nothing more for her. Musette arrives. She gives a bracelet and a ring to Schaunard to purchase medicine for Mimi, but it is too late. Mimi dies in Rodolfo’s arms.

Even boiled down as far as this, it is clear that Puccini had a better story-sense than Leoncavallo, who wrote his own libretto. I have never come across a copy of Murger’s book, but I would bet that Leoncavallo preserved more of its original elements than Puccini. Leoncavallo’s people are cheerful in his first two acts, but never quite as cheerful as Puccini’s. There is a certain pervasive grim charmlessness about them. Leoncavallo’s final two acts are unrelieved gloom. I suspect that Puccini’s librettists originally delivered something quite like Leoncavallo’s storyline to that notoriously difficult man and that he tossed it back at them, insisting that they cut out everything extraneous to focus on Mimi.

Bar for bar of the music and phrase for phrase, Puccini and Leoncavallo write in pretty much the same verismo idiom. Leoncavallo can match Puccini in providing orchestral lushness but seems less inclined to so so. Puccini has the better sense of overall structure, brilliantly mixing darkness and light in three of his four acts. Leoncavallo, following a simpler path, goes straight from two acts of giddiness into two acts of gloom.

As for the individual arias, sometimes the similarities get downright eerie. In Act II, Leoncavallo’s tenor Marcello finds Musette’s furniture in the street. He asks her to move in with him in “Io no ho che un povera stanzetta” (rendered by one translation in lumpy fashion as “I have but a poor little room.”) Leoncavallo’s aria has the texture and spirit of “Che gelida manina” almost perfectly but it does not develop from that point. Musette does not reply to Marcello in the same heightened manner that Puccini’s Mimi does to Rodolfo and there is no advance into glorious duet.

Despite my nitpicking, Leoncavallo’s “La Boheme” is a sound piece of work with some good tunes. Had it not been torpedoed by Puccini, it would probably be lurking at the edges of the standard repertory in very much the same manner as “Adriana Lecouvreur.” As an alternative version of a great masterpiece, it should be in every serious collection of opera recordings, just like, say, Nicolai’s “Merry Wives of Windsor.”

 Analyzed folder: /96k Leoncavallo – La Boheme – Popp-Bonisolli
 DR        Peak        RMS        Filename
DR18        -1.05 dB     -23.65 dB     SideA.wav

 DR17        -1.00 dB     -23.32 dB     SideB.wav
 DR16        -0.93 dB     -23.14 dB     SideC.wav
 DR17        -0.77 dB     -23.39 dB     SideD.wav
 DR15        -0.88 dB     -22.05 dB     SideE.wav
 DR18        -0.64 dB     -24.06 dB     SideF.wav
Number of files:    6

 Official DR value:    DR17

Ripping Infos

  • RCM: Okki Nokki
  • TT: Clearaudio Champion Level II
  • System: Limited Edition Denon DL 103 SA
  • Phono stage: Pro-Ject Phono Box II
  • Pre Amp: Unison Research Unico Pre (Tube)
  • Finals: Opera Consonance 9.9 Mono (Tube)
  • Speakers: Dali Helikon 400
  • Connections: MIT Terminator, Audioquest Emerald, Audioquest Quartz
  • Software: iZotope RX Advanced v2.02, Adobe Audition CS 5.5, Twisted Wave 1.9
  • Light de-Clicking with iZotope, significant clicks manually removing, no De-Noising

If You hear some clicks and pops here and there, Who cares?
Id rather have a few light anomalies instead of destroying the music. Enjoy the music, not the ticks & pops

  • 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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12 thoughts on “HD-Vinyls 24/96 (Orfeo) Ruggiero Leoncavallo – La Bohème (Popp/Bonisolli)

  1. I had this in LPs also. Enjoyed them when published; ENJOY THIS MORE NOW! I’m now more mature, but your work is exquisite. What a spacial improvement in the sound. Seems I’m in the Theater three rows back from the orchestra.

    Thanks Rach.

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