In 1830s Paris four arty types shiver in a garret, owing rent but when one of their number,musician Schaunard,earns money they are all set to buy a meal in a nearby restaurant. Poet Rodolpho stays behind to finish his writing and is interrupted by Lucia,known as Mimi,a seamstress from the next apartment. They are instantly attracted to each other and catch the others up at the restaurant where Rodolpho's painter friend Marcello is re-acquainted with his flirtatious ex-girlfriend Musetta, who dumps her sugar daddy,after getting him to pay everyone's bill,for him. Some time later Musetta and Alfredo are living together,as are Mimi and Rodolpho,but he is aware that she has tuberculosis and is mean to her in the hopes she will leave him for someone who can take better care of her. Eventually she does,Musetta splits from Marcello and the four men resume garret life. They are visited by Musetta,who has sought out Mimi,now living with a wealthy count,but dying,and has brought her back to die...Written by
don @ minifie-1
It is what it is: a film version of an opera - they can never be anything else after all. This must be seen as a film of people miming to music with cinematography augmented by digital cartoonery supplanting stage drama, and judged on those merits. As a film it's pretty - pretty enjoyable and pretty well worth watching and of course Anna Netrebko as Mimi is fairly pretty too!
Young penniless couple meet, fall instantly head over heels in love for no reason at all but their dreams are cruelly cut down by her illness and all to some of the most emotionally charged music ever written. So long as the music, libretto and script are adhered to a film version can't go wrong - the director generally sticks to it and doesn't force his own interpretations on us too much. When he does, it works: a restrained use of artistic license. And there's nice imagery, plush backgrounds and clever use of colour. Trouble is, the atmosphere generated by a live performance is lost with a film – the lavish 2008 Met Opera production by Zefferelli recorded with Angela Georghiu and Ramon Vargas had its faults too but imho is preferable to this. We all probably have our own favourite versions of Puccini's most famous opera – mine is the May 1938 complete recording in Milan with Beniamino Gigli as Rodolfo (especially of O Mimi, Tu Piu Non Torni at the beginning of Act 4 - something so beautiful which has not been bettered since the advent of stereo or digital - since the singer was unrepeatable). What's yours? For arguments sake I could also say the legendary Lucrezia Bori's Mimi still resonates well through the acoustic mono hiss from her century-old records.
Netrebko has a fine and well controlled voice, but having seen her repeatedly wallow in a swimsuit to Dvorak's Song To The Moon on the late UK Classic FM TV I still wonder whether she's punching above her weight with operas like La Boheme – incidentally great blood spattered acting in the Met's Lucia Di Lammermoor a few months ago but is she colouratura enough? Her acting for the camera here is also fine, something which is occasionally in doubt when she's performing live – however the rapturous applause from her adoring Met audiences for her various performances this year leave no doubt of her superstardom. Favourite bits from many: O Soave Fancuilla - definitely not bathed in moonlight; Dunque: E Propio Finita in the pouring snow; naturally the climax back in the garret – as suitably tearjerking as it should be. However, this is a film (with minor faults) well worth the time/effort and an admirable vehicle for Anna Netrebko, as it should be. Brava!
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