[Met Performance] CID:291250
La Bohème {928} Metropolitan Opera House: 01/22/1988.

(Debuts: Jonathan Summers, Claudio Giombi, Carlos Kleiber
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
January 22, 1988


LA BOHÈME {928}

Mimì....................Mirella Freni
Rodolfo.................Luciano Pavarotti
Musetta.................Barbara Daniels
Marcello................Jonathan Summers [Debut]
Schaunard...............Thomas Hampson
Colline.................Gwynne Howell
Benoit..................Claudio Giombi [Debut]
Alcindoro...............Claudio Giombi
Parpignol...............Stephen O'Mara
Sergeant................Mitchell Sendrowitz
Officer.................Ray Morrison

Conductor...............Carlos Kleiber [Debut]


Review of Bill Zakariasen in the New York News


MET DELIVERS MASTERPIECE


Conductor Carlos Kleiber is as famous for his cancellations as Montserrat Caballe, and therefore pundits were taking bets last week whether he'd show up for his Metropolitan Opera debut Friday in Puccini's "La Boheme."

But he did-after, according to Met scuttlebutt, he got the rehearsals and the cast he wanted. The former showed in the precision of the whole performance, and in the latter, no one could hope for bigger names than Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Mirella Freni as Mimi. In fact, this was an altogether superior presentation of "La Boheme" which showed the Met in the best possible contemporary light.

Kleiber's conducting was very much in the Toscanini mold-brisk overall, yet within its tight framework very resilient. He worked most attentively with the singers, who never once got away from his beat. I'm sure Pavarotti was used to a more relaxed tempo in "Che gelida manina" (which he sang transposed down a semiitone as usual these days), but he has never sounded more ardent or vocally ringing in the role. Freni is of course vocally and dramatically the dominant Mimi of our time, and perhaps because of Kleiber's attentive conducting, she seemed better than ever in the part.

Australian baritone Jonathan Summers debuted as Marcello, showing an assured technique and stage presence. The other debutant, bass Claudio Giombi, appeared in the roles of the landlord Benoit and the dirty old man Alcindoro. He played the parts with good tone and proper befuddlement, and interestingly he was made up for the latter character to look like Verdi. Barbara Daniels sang brightly and gave a spunky yet sympathetic portrayal of Musetta, Thomas Hampson was outstanding in the usually negligible role of Schaunard, and Gwynne Howell made a strong if somewhat gravel-voiced Colline.



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