[Met Performance] CID:197390
La Bohème {619} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/29/1964.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
February 29, 1964


LA BOHÈME {619}

Mimì....................Gabriella Tucci
Rodolfo.................Franco Corelli
Musetta.................Elisabeth Söderström
Marcello................Frank Guarrera
Schaunard...............William Walker
Colline.................Bonaldo Giaiotti
Benoit..................Fernando Corena
Alcindoro...............Alessio De Paolis
Parpignol...............Emil Filip
Sergeant................Lloyd Strang
Officer.................Edward Ghazal

Conductor...............Fausto Cleva


Review of John Ardoin in Musical America

The February 29 "La Bohème" is one of those performances that will be talked about for many years. Everything clicked and produced that special brand of magic and excitement that radiates from a superbly sung performance of a favorite like "Bohème." Franco Corelli sang his first Rodolfo anywhere, and never at the Met has he seemed so at ease and so convincing. His was no wooden-Indian portrayal. He looked the part and moved with ardor and spirit. Then too it was wonderful to hear a lusty Radames-Manrico voice in the part. Far from being overly heroic, Corelli's singing was wonderfully virile, and the emotions of the final act combined the exact amount of sobbing and singing. For my money there hasn't been such a Rodolfo since Björling.

Another first at the Met was Gabriella Tucci's Mimi. If Mr. Corelli was all masculinity, Miss Tucci was the essence of fragility. Some reservations had been lodged in this corner about her return this season in "Trovatore," but the tentativeness that marred her Leonora was absent at this "Bohème." Her singing was impassioned and glorious in sound. She added a touching bit of business in Act I which was typical of the general way in which she underplayed her characterization and cleared away many years of cobwebs which have accumulated on the part. Being seated during "Che gelida manina," she began "Mi chiamano Mimi" quietly in her chair and told her story in a gentle way. But at "Ma quando vien lo sgelo," when Mimi sings of thawing snow and the return of spring and the sun's warmth, Tucci rose slowly from her chair, raised her arms and moved to the footlights as she released a flood of glowing sound which sent rays of warmth through the Met. Like Mr. Corelli's, Miss Tucci's trim form was as visually convincing as her lovely voice, and together they created a pair of lovers rare in "Bohème" annals, I am sure.

Elisabeth Söderström sang her first Musetta of the season, adding another stellar element to the cast and stressing again for me, her incredible versatility. The other Bohemians (Frank Guarrera, Bonaldo Giaiotti, William Walker) joined into the high spirits which swept through the performance, and the cast was completed by Fernando Corena's marvelous Benoit and Alessio de Paolis' equally marvelous Alcindoro. In fact, Mr. de Paolis almost stole Act II away from Miss Söderström with his irresistible byplay and appropriately bumbling characterization. The only element of the evening that was not in a class with the general proceedings was the sloppy work of the chorus, but even this could not dampen this great evening at the Met. Fausto Cleva conducted.



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