Puccini: La Bohème - Del Monaco, Rizzieri, Bechi, Neroni; Gui. Napoli, 1950
Listen to a Sample:
The phrase "live recording" inspires different feelings in opera fans. I, personally, have always preferred live recordings to their sterile studio counterparts, however, I know that many associate them with scratchy, poor sounding relics. In my collection I have striven to satisfy both sides by only making available recordings in adequate sound and with this in mind I almost nixed this recording of La boheme as the sound is not good and there are parts missing. Before my finger could hit the eject button, however, the young Del Monaco soon drew me back in and soon the miracle of his voice was overpowering the surface flaws of this recording. In 1950 his voice was truly lyrical and the timbre is slightly brighter. Gino Bechi as Marcello is another great asset. He matches Del Monaco both in sound and youthful vigor. I did not know Elena Rizzieri but she brings both vocal sheen and opulence to Mimì all the while not letting herself be overpowered by her godlike cast-mates. There are a few dropouts to mention. The first few minutes of Acts one and three are missing, there is a thirty second gap before "Donde lieta" and the last bars of the opera come in and out. Thankfully there are no gaps over the glorious singing, so if you are not afraid of an imperfect recording, then I highly recommend this wonderful (and near perfect) performance.