More Americans saw La Bohème on TV recently—PBS estimates the audience at nearly five million—than in the 81-year history of Puccini’s masterpiece. For those who wish to grieve on with Rodolfo, laugh with Musetta and cough with Mimi, a London recording of the opera has appeared on the classical charts. The only cast member who also sang on TV is Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo, but his splendor is matched by Mirella Freni as Mimi, Elizabeth Harwood as Musetta and Rolando Panerai, Nicolai Ghiaurov and Gianni Maffeo as the boys in the garret. Under Herbert von Karajan, they and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra have produced a dramatic, exciting Bohème. It’s hard now to remember that the opera was considered a failure at its debut.