Puccini : BohemeMilan, La Scala, 1979 (Audio)
Director: Carlos Kleiber
This is the best La Boheme recording I've ever heard and maybe one of the best opera recordings I've ever heard. The cast is perfect - Cotrubas singing beautifully and deftly handling all the complexities that most forget to bring to the role of Mimi. Pavarotti in his prime. Popp's seductively coy Musetta.
But the star here is Carlos Kleiber. Puccini writes his operas with the voice being interwoven into the orchestral texture. This means an extra careful attention to balance and color between the singers and the orchestra and of course, the orchestra must step up and not play a subservient role to the singers. The conductor is ultimately responsible for this and Kleiber succeeds here like no other has before or since.
This performance is electrifying, incredibly imaginative and inspired in terms of musicianship, and the chemistry between all the performers is quite amazing.