"La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

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RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable...

I have been following this post, but have so far refrained from posting, as I'd already had experience of Parla's unshakeable belief that he is right, in the debate on Jonas Kaufmann.In the end, I found the whole debate tiresome in the extreme and stopped following it. It ceased to be about Kaufmann, and descended, like so many others, to something akin to a playground dispute.

However i shouldn't be deprived of the right to express an opinion, and so I'll chip in with my two pennyworth. La Boheme was, in fact, the opera that first really converted me opera. No doubt it has served the same purpose for many. I was 18 and queued for ages for a seat at the Newcastle Theatre Royal for a Glyndebourne Touring Opera Production. In the end I shared a box with three other people (all unknown to each other) and remember sitting in the corner of the box, tears pouring down my face for most of the time. That's how much the music affected me. It was a traditional production with a cast of young singers (essential I feel in this opera), one of whom, Linda Esther Gray, went on to have quite a career. I've since seen it many times of course, though no other performance has quite had the effect of thatfirst  one, and have heard many recordings, though the one I cling to is still Callas, superb in an unchracteristic role (only Callas has that ability to bring a lump to the throat with the way she sings one word, dorme? in Act III being a particular example).

I would not hesitate to call La Boheme a masterpiece. Like all Puccini's operas, it works incredibly well in the theatre, and can even make an effect with less than great singers, though, it has to be admitted, the demands on the performers are relatively slight. Musically it is well crafted, and, though the big moments are supremely beautiful, Puccini's scene setting is also extremely adept and well crafted. Nowadays, my tastes more sophisticated, I can find it a little mawkish and sentimental, but to complain about that is to complain about sugar being too sweet. It is what it is. Nowadays I also prefer Verdi. His themes are altogether grander and I believe he tells us more about the human condition, but that is not to detract from the brilliantly effective theatrical operas that Puccini left us.



RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

Oh, dear! the 400 word and beyond is allowed when you guys sermonise about how I have to behave in this forum. However, I appreciate your much more thoughtful, kind (in some ways) and caring advise, dear Caballe and Mark.

Few remarks: Caballe, allow me to doubt about the "already converted". When I joined this forum, I thought I will communicate with like-minded people. Apparently, the members in this forum are like Christianity; there are plenty of denominations, sects etc. So, people here defend their positions, in one or the other way, anyway.

The fact that I refer to my friends-musicians, old professors etc is because they will never do (for different reasons), on one hand, and because I care about reaching some kind of common denominator on the Truth about the different aspects of Classical Music. So, I try to pass messages that are not simply personal views, opinions, etc.

However, in the case of Boheme, I explained that the view about the first part of the First Act (that came out of my research with my friends, etc.) is just a view, not the only view, and I was faced with an intolerance of the highest degree, a hostility of a considerable extent, a vehemence of first order and disrespect of noticeable incivility.

As for the "socially constructed" forum, dear Mark, I think, if I remember well, we have been involved in a quite a few constructive exchanges and I don't recall we were that often in disagreement, at the end of our discourse. And that happened not only with you. I wonder where did you find this notion of "ownership" of threads. I just participate wherever and whenever I feel compelled to say something.

Finally, I'm really curiously interested to find out where and which is this "element of gamesmanship" in my approach. That would be news to me.

...and if this topic was interesting to you, Mark, then, it was worthwhile, malgre' tout...


RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

mange tout Rodney, mange tout.

RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

Parla, as your 'pen pal' I have to be honest. I do think there is an element of gamesmanship in your approach; simply the wish to 'beat others' hands down in the argument.

To repeat it again: I, and others, don't take it that kindly if you see your friends as 'musical cognoscenti' and us on this forum as ignoramuses!

We all have to give and take Parla, not just give. Have a think about it.

Yes, your debates with me personally have often been constructive, but I just get that feeling, that on Sunday, or whenever, when you meet up with your musical friends in the Berlin terrace cafes, and sip your lates and your Viennese coffees,that you will say to them: 'You'll never guess what. I posted this topic on the Gramophone forum, and they believed me! Or 'I won the argument'. And your friends will laugh, and say well done.

That's the impression that we are picking up Parla, whether true or not.

Please accept this advice as 'friendly fire'.

Tsara  - I know exactly what you mean. My conversion to opera has come relatively late in life, after a concert performance of 'It Tabarro' by Puccini at the Proms a couple of years ago. I was so excited that I rang my old man on my mobile and explained.

'Is that the one about the boatman?' he said.

'Yup' I replied.

'Crikey man,' he said (don't ask me why he said that he was never a sixties hippy). That's only a minor one! You want to listen to Tosca, and Madame Butterfly, and La Boheme...'

SO I've robbed his collection of 'La Boheme'. Bjorling, De Los Angeles and Beecham...

Best wishes



RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

Caballe and Mark, thanks a lot for your constructive and decent tips for a more productive and fruitful performance from my side, in this forum.

Caballe, I don't think I have ever "upset the moderators", since I never offended anyone or used abusive language. I don't "challenge whatever (other members) have to say", but only those remarks, statements, etc. that I found I have to respond. The fact that the infamous YouTube could be fraught of foul language doesn't justify the existence of any indecent attack in these forum of supposedly more educated, cultivated, sensible and, sometimes, sensitive people. The phrase "they will never do" means they will never participate in a forum like that, because of lack of time, command of English language, exhausting rehearsals, attending or giving lessons and some more reasons.

Mark, I thought you were closer than others to reach me, but you fail me. I'm really sorry if I give you that impression(s). The picture of the "Berlin terrace cafes" is so inspiring, intriguing and fascinating, but so far from any trace of Truth. However, if this is the impression you (and possibly many others) get from my posts, then, I have to take it into serious consideration. However, I cannot be somebody else. In any case, we are some sort of shadows in this forum. The colours and the pictures we draw with our posts, unfortunately, are like fleeting lovers.

Vielen Dank!


RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

parla wrote:

Caballe, I don't think I have ever "upset the moderators", since I never offended anyone or used abusive language.

I seem to recall your use of a grossly offensive analogy in a previous thread upset contributors and moderators. Presumably this is why the latter deleted the post. 


RE: "La Boheme": An incontestable masterpiece?

You seem to recall well, JKH, but you should recall that I promptly apologised to anyone concerned for my unintended "grossly offensive analogy". I made the miscalculation to consider that I may use an example, already used in discussions among people who know each other, in the same way in an open forum. Anyway, message received to the letter.

However, I was not aware of the eventual removal of the post in question. Thanks for the info. Out of over 600 posts, one was ill-fated. Lesson learned : sapere aude!



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