Robert Spano

Puccini: La Bohème

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Telarc's recording of La bohème with Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus was taken from a concert performance of the opera in 2007. It's a solid account of the opera, and the ensemble spirit of the singers is one of its greatest strengths. The cast includes no superstars with huge voices, but young singers who are early in their careers, and their youthfulness adds a wonderful element of believability to the story. There are no weak links in the ensemble; the cast is uniformly accomplished, all singing with the idiomatic assurance of veterans in these roles, and with polish, spontaneity, and passion. They skillfully embody the progression from carefree exuberance at the opening to the overwhelming sadness of the finale, with urgency and real feeling. The success of the recording is due in no small part to Spano's masterful shaping of the score, and his attention to its emotional volatility. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra plays with finesse and intensity, but doesn't quite have the effortless nuance of the best opera orchestras, which have this idiom in their blood. The same could be said for the very fine Symphony Chorus, which sings beautifully, but sounds like a chorus rather than like a crowd of characters in an opera. Telarc's superb sound is natural and vibrant, with both excellent balance and a good dramatic ambience.

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