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I watched this film expecting to be amused by the wooden acting. The acting was wooden but by the end of the film I didn't care; I was totally overwhelmed by the vocal performances. Pavarotti sounded as magnificent as you might expect. Fiamma Izzo D'Amico was a moving Mimi with a sweet voice. The supporting cast was strong, in the vocal department at least. This performance was apparently filmed in Beijing, although there does not seem to be any mention of it in the credits. The audience was very enthusiastic but I was not bothered by their applauding in the wrong place. The extremely traditional production, combined with an audience hearing this amazing music for the first time made me think that it must have been like that at the premiere 90 years earlier.
Already, in 1986, the production had to make some concessions to Luciano's lack of mobility. In the build-up to Che Gelida Manina, Rodolfo and Mimi are usually scrambling around on the floor looking for the lost key. This was clearly out of the question for Pavarotti. In this production, Mimi has one hand on the floor and the other on the table. Pavarotti, standing nearby, has only to slide his hand across to hers to notice that it is frozen.
Rodolfo keeps Mimi's lace bonnet in his pocket and takes it out from time to time when he recalls their love. Unfortunately it looks like a pair of lace panties and whenever Pavarotti takes it out of his pocket, presses it to his face and sniffs it, it seems quite pervy.
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