JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ "Una furtiva lagrima"
Arias from Donizetti's Rita, L'elisir d'amore, Don Pasquale, Elizabetta, La Fille du regiment, and Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, La sonnambula, and I Puritani
Juan Diego Flórez, tenor; Giuseppe Verdi Milan Chorus; Giuseppe Verdi Milan Symphony Orch/Riccardo Frizza, cond.
DECCA 470 628 SACD (DDD) TT: 63:57
(5.1 channel)

PUCCINI: La Bohème
Angela Gheorghiu (Mimi); Roberto Alagna (Rodolfo); Elisabetta Scano (Musetta); Simon Keenlyside (Marcello); Roberto de Candia (Schaunard); Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (Colline);Coro di voci bianche del Teatro alla Scala e del Conservatorio "G. Verdi" di Milano; Orchestra e coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano; Riccardo Chailly, cond.
DECCA 470 624 (2 CDs) (SACD) (DDD) TT: 50:37 & 49:12 (5.1 channel)

The Florez CD has been reviewed very favorably on this site by K.M. Indeed the young tenor's singing displays extraordinary flexibility and range. Now this recording has been issued on SACD which gives the singer remarkable presence. It is almost alarming to hear him toss off those high notes with such ease, and the surround sound adds welcome pleasant ambience. Complete texts are provided —and this is a "hybrid" disk, i.e. it will play on all CD players and if you have a SACD player and necessary other equipment, you can play the surround version.

This new Bohème has much to offer in many ways. Roberto Alagna and his real-life wife Angela Gheorghiu are an effective pair of doomed lovers, and both are in good voice. The only weak point in this cast is Elisabetta Scano's Musetta which is harsh and decidedly unpleasant; she is a minus on this recording. Riccardo Chailly's Puccini is always exemplary and he keeps things moving briskly in Act II, yet does not miss any of the score's sentiment. This is the first studio recording of the new critical edition edited from original sources by Francesco Degrada. There is a detailed explanation of the many differences between what is normally heard and what is on this recording. Riccardo Chailly in the CD notes explains there are "no less than 181 amendments to the published score—42 in the first act, 52 in the second, 39 in the third and 48 in the fourth," but that only three affect the actual notes in the score, the most striking of them being the addition of a rising flute line set against the harp notes just after Rodolfo begins "Che gelida manina." The other "amendments" are concerned with tempi, dynamics, accents and phrasing.

This is a surround recording made October 16-29, 1998 in the Teatro Studio, Piccolo Teatro, Milan. There is no question the superior audio quality of SACD; we now hear everything on the master recording. One might question over-prominence of the singers on occasion, but engineers have effectively handled the Act I ending as Rodolfo and Mimi leave the scene. In Act II the military tatoo coming from a distance also is well done. There's a handsome booklet and complete libretto in Italian, German, French and English.