[Met Performance] CID:229270
La Bohème {724} Matinee ed. Hynes Civic Auditorium, Boston, Massachusetts: 04/29/1972.

(Review)


Boston, Massachusetts
April 29, 1972 Matinee


LA BOHÈME {724}

Mimì....................Lucine Amara
Rodolfo.................Luciano Pavarotti
Musetta.................Colette Boky
Marcello................Matteo Manuguerra
Schaunard...............Robert Goodloe
Colline.................Justino Díaz
Benoit..................Fernando Corena
Alcindoro...............Fernando Corena
Parpignol...............William Mellow
Sergeant................Edward Ghazal
Officer.................Nicola Barbusci

Conductor...............Francesco Molinari-Pradelli

Review of Robert Jones in the Boston Globe

Met's 'La Bohème' good for a cry

Saturday afternoon in Hynes Auditorium the Metropolitan Opera, presented a production of Puccini's "La Boheme" that was successful enough to be a good cry session for the audience, but not much more than that.

Much of the blame belongs to the conductor, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli. One doesn't often think of it, but a Puccini opera, cannot succeed on the strength of good singing alone. The orchestra carries the principal melodic material almost all of the time, and the singers' parts are often simply recitative-like text setting. When a musical conductor leads the work, he shapes the orchestral phrases in such a way as to help the singers fit their declamation into an overall musical line, but when someone tries only to follow the singers, as Mr. Molinari-Pradelli did, disaster strikes in the loss of all semblance of musical continuity, except of course where the singers have a big tune. Some of the singers sang musically enough to help the orchestra along, but others…

Particularly unfortunate were the ensemble scenes in Act II, in which the conductor should make everything fit together with clockwork precision. The whole thing was constantly on the verge of falling apart, although here the maestro was aided by the singing of the Met chorus, one of the nation's major cultural disgraces.

The singers: Lucine Amara as Mimi was by far the best, singing with a genuine musical line, beautiful tone, and regard for verbal values. Her acting was a bit: conventionally operatic, but it was done gracefully and with sincerity, and was in the end convincing, Colette Boky as Musetta and Matteo Manuguerra as Marcello both were vocally a little rough sounding, but they sang musically and acted with good dramatic sense.

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who played Rodolfo, has a beautiful voice, is capable of singing very loudly and reasonably softly, high notes and low notes, but is a dreadful actor, even by current Metropolitan Opera standards, and his singing was often crudely phrased, with no beautiful line to it. I suspect that, with a firmer hand at the baton, he is capable of giving a much more musical-sounding performance. He follows the horrible tradition of interpolating a high "C" at the end of Act One. It was a beautiful "C," but don't tenors realize how ugly it sounds in the context?

I hesitate to say much about the stage direction of Patrick Tavernia, because much, of the time people seemed to be worrying about where they were supposed to be. I did see an awful lot of distracting business at the precisely crucial time where one's attention should be focusing somewhere else. Musetta's first entrance in Act Four, which should strike the spectator like a heart attack, was deprived of its full effect by a needless (though very funny) gag which interrupted the dramatic crescendo of the duel scene.

Sets (good) and costumes (beautiful) were by Rolf Gerard, and the snow machine in Act Three stole the show. (At least it caused the audience to drown out several seconds of music with applause.)

As president of the Robert Jones Society to Reform Audience Behavior, I must point out that the audience was really boorish in their interruptions of the music. Just because the curtain is closing is no reason to start clapping if the music is still going. Don't they appreciate the effort that it takes composers, copyists, conductors and orchestras to cause all those notes to be played? And surely there is no excuse save sheer insensitivity for applauding in the middle of "Mi chiamino Mimi," one of the most, famous arias, ever written!



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