AQVR 405-2
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                         Opera in four acts

     Libretto by L. Illica and G. Giacosa based on

       «Scènes de la vie de Bohème» by H. Murger

Rodolfo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ivan Kozlovsky

Mimì . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elizaveta Shumskaya

Marcello . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ivan Burlak

Musetta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexandra Yakovenko

Colline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexei Korolev

Schaunard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexander Tikhonov

Benoit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Daniil Demyanov

Parpignol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sergei Fomichev

Alcindoro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gennady Troitsky

Sergente dei doganieri . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boris Dobrin

Una Ragazza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tatiana Vorobieva

                   Choir of All-Union Radio

        Moscow State Philharmonic Orchestra

              Conductor - Samuil Samosud

                        Recorded in 1955

CD 1 (54:39)

Act 1

  1. Questo Mar Rosso (Marcello, Rodolfo)

  2. A te l'atto primo (Rodolfo, Marcello, Colline)

  3. Abbasso, abbasso (Colline, Marcello, Rodolfo, Schaunard)

  4. Si può? (Benoit, Marcello, Schaunard, Colline, Rodolfo)

  5. Ho pagato il trimestre (Marcello, Schaunard, Rodolfo, Colline)

  6. Non sono in vena (Rodolfo, Mimì)

  7. Che gelida manina! (Rodolfo)

  8. Si. Mi chiamano Mimì (Mimì)

  9. Ehi! Rodolfo! (Schaunard, Colline, Marcello, Rodolfo, Mimì)

10. O soave fanculla (Rodolfo, Mimì)

Act 2

11. Aranci, datteri! (Coro, Schaunard, Colline, Rodolfo, Parpignol, Mimì, Marcello)

12. Questa è Mimì (Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard, Colline, Parpignol, Coro, Una Ragazza, Mimì)

13. Signorina Mimì (Marcello, Mimì, Schaunard, Colline, Rodolfo)

14. Ch'io beva del tossico! (Marcello, Alcindoro, Musetta, Coro, Mimì)

15. Quando men vo soletta (Musetta, Marcello, Alcindoro, Mimì, Rodolfo, Colline, Schaunard)

16. Ah!... Che c'è? (Musetta, Alcindoro, Marcello, Schaunard, Colline, Rodolfo, Mimì, Coro)

CD 2 (75:51)

Act 3

  1. Ohè, là, le guardie!.. (Coro, Sergente dei doganieri, Musetta)

  2. Sa dirmi, scusi (Mimì, Sergente dei doganieri)

  3. Mimì?! ...Speravo (Mimì, Marcello)

  4. Marcello, Finalmente! (Rodolfo, Marcello, Mimì)

  5. Ebbene no (Rodolfo, Marcello, Mimì)

  6. D'onde lieta usci (Mimì)

  7. Dunque è proprio finita? (Rodolfo, Mimì, Marcello, Musetta)

Act 4

  8. In un coupé? (Marcello, Rodolfo)

  9. O Mimì tu più non tomi (Rodolfo, Marcello)

10. Che ora sia? (Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard, Colline)

11. Musetta! ...C'è Mimì... (Marcello, Musetta, Rodolfo, Schaunard, Mimì)

12. Vecchia zimarra, senti (Colline, Schaunard)

13. Sono andati? (Mimì, Rodolfo)

14. Oh Dio! Mimì! (Rodolfo, Schaunard, Mimì, Musetta, Marcello, Colline)

Bonus tracks:

15. Scene and duet of Rodolfo and Mimì (act 1)

Elizaveta Shumskaya (Mimì), Ivan Kozlovsky (Rodolfo), Andrei Ivanov (Marcello), Konstantin Terekhin (Schaunard), Vladimir Malyshev (Colline)

16. Duet of Marcello and Rodolfo (act 4) Ivan Kozlovsky, Andrei Ivanov

Orchestra of the Bolshoi theatre, conductor - Samuil Samosud

Recorded in 1950


CRITIC REVIEWS:

“In FANFARE 16:1, James Kammer reviewed a recital of French arias sung by Ivan Kozlovsky. He began ‘Ivan Kozlovsky represents the last of a tradition - the singer as the center of the opera universe. There is no doubt when we are listening to him that he is in charge and the conductor is dutifully following along’. He concludes: ‘So, let the purists scream; in this writer’s opinion, Kozlovsky, with his magnificent voice, imagination and artistry, carries all before him’.

Put me firmly in the Kammer camp. I have admired this tenor for many years and have been collecting his recordings avidly. I own this LA BOHÈME on Melodiya LPs issued some years ago and this Aquarius transfer actually improves the sound, removing some of the LP's edge. If you are more than a casual opera lover this would enhance your operatic collection considerably. Yes, it is sung in Russian, as was the custom in those days. What a pleasure to hear a singer reveling in the act of singing.

Actually, everyone in this performance is fully engaged. Samuil Samosud was one of Russia’s most important operatic conductors and he has a deep feel for the Puccini idiom. Part of the genius of LA BOHÈME is Puccini’s stark contrasts between the comic, the tender, and the tragic. It is critical that the conductor make these contrasts dramatically effective while maintaining overall momentum and structure, and Samosud manages that as well as the most respected Italian maestri.

While every one of the principals is quite good, and the overall ensemble and dramatic involvement is well above the average for studio recordings, it is Kozlovsky that raises this recording from being a very intriguing curiosity to being something worthy of real attention. You need make no allowances whatsoever for his age. The high C in the aria is ringing, and held onto with pride. There are touches of individuality throughout - little grace notes, suddenly applied diminuendi, notes held because of their dramatic and/or vocal effect. This is singing the way it was when LA BOHÈME was composed. The most apt stylistic comparison to Kozlovsky on disc might be Fernando de Lucia, who took similar liberties with the printed score. It is important to note that Puccini wanted him to be the first Rodolfo (it did not happen, but he did sing it shortly after the premiere), and whose singing Puccini adored. Kozlovsky may be a throwback, but it may just be a throwback to the way this music was meant to be sung, with individuality and a real vocal ‘face’. He has a way of bringing the listener in close whenever he sings. In his third act encounter with Marcello, he will break your heart. Hearing his Rodolfo is a unique experience, and a privilege.

Elizaveta Shumskaya was a leading lyric soprano at the Bolshoi during the 1950s and early ‘60s, and she has a lovely sound and characterizes the music very well. It is not unique singing in the way Kozlovsky’s is, but it would be unfair to expect that of anyone. Her third act scene with Marcello is particularly affecting. Ivan Burlak’s Marcello is sensitively sung, though the voice itself is somewhat ordinary. Alexandra Yakovenko is a bright, pert and feisty Musetta, and the other bohemians clearly have a ball with their roles. Alexi Korolev’s farewell to Colline’s coat is quite touching, and sung with a typical dark, rich Russian basso voice.

The bonus tracks provide the first act finale, starting with Mimì’s entrance, and the Rodolfo-Marcello duet from the fourth act, of a Bolshoi broadcast from 5 years earlier than the recording. There is a bit more juice in the voices of Shumskaya and Kozlovsky, and Andrei Ivanov is a richer voiced Marcello than Ivan Burlak. The performance is a bit bigger in scale, geared to an opera house rather than a recording studio, but Kozlovsky still manages many of his individualistic shadings.

Aquarius’ booklet provides track listings and a cast in the alphabet that we can understand, but all the notes are in Cyrillic. Two pages of photos of all the principals are a nice addition. Aquarius, which is doing wonderful work with important Russian recordings, is available through Norbeck, Peters & Ford.”

- Henry Fogel, FANFARE