- La bohème, opera: Act 4. Oh Dio! Mimì! / Che avvien?
- La bohème, opera: Act 4. Sono andati? Fingevo di dormire
- La bohème, opera: Act 4. Vecchia zimarra, senti
- La bohème, opera: Act 4. In un coupé? / O Mimì, tu piu non torni
- La bohème, opera: Act 3. Dunque è proprio finita!
- La bohème, opera: Act 3. D'onde lieta uscì
- La bohème, opera: Act 2. La commedia è stupenda! / Quando men vo
- La bohème, opera: Act 1. O soave fanciulla
- La bohème, opera: Act 1. Sì. Mi chiamano Mimì
- La bohème, opera: Act 1. Che gelida manina
- La bohème, opera: Act 1. Non sono in vena. Chi è là? / Scusi
Director Robert Dornhelm made a film of "La bohème" based on the 2008 recording featuring superstars Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, and this disc includes highlights from the soundtrack. It would be easy to approach the much-hyped project with a certain amount of skepticism, but the result fully lives up to the high expectations that it promised. The whole enterprise sounds so youthful and impetuous that it makes it possible to hear the opera in a new way. Puccini, of course, wrote the youthful impetuosity into the score, but it has rarely felt so authentically spontaneous and artless. The fact that the principals are in fact young, with young-sounding voices, is an important part of the CD's effectiveness. Also essential is Bertand de Billy's vibrant conducting. The excerpts from the end of act one beautifully underscore the intimacy that develops between Rodolfo and Mimì, and de Billy gives free rein to Puccini's lyrical outpouring. The four principals are extraordinarily fine. From Villazón's first lines, his passion comes across with intensity, and the ease with which he becomes enthralled by Mimì seems inevitable and entirely believable. The warmth and clarity of his voice and the naturalness of his demeanor make him a truly memorable Rodolfo. Anna Netrebko's voice can be velvety or ethereal, and blends beautifully with his; her gentleness makes her an ideal foil to Villazón's impetuosity. At the end of the first act, they just sound so blissfully happy. Boaz Daniel is a splendid Marcello, strongly characterized, singing with fullness and vigor. Nicole Cabell's Musetta is vocally gorgeous -- both pure and voluptuous -- but her role is not quite as incisively and distinctively characterized as those of the other principals. Stéphane Degout as Schaunard, Vitalij Kowaljow as Colline, and Tiziano Bracci as Benoit and Alcindoro are wonderfully appealing performers who make a strong contribution to the effectiveness of the CD. Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks plays with brilliance and suppleness under de Billy's inspired direction. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is expansive and atmospheric, with excellent presence and balance. A quibble is that the CD is relatively brief, less than 55 minutes. With all that gorgeous music to choose from, the producers should have been able to include another 15 or 20 minutes.