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HomeOperaCovent Backyard’s revival of La bohème is much more related immediately –...

Covent Backyard’s revival of La bohème is much more related immediately – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United Kingdom Puccini, La bohème: Soloists, Refrain and Orchestra of the Royal Opera Home / Kevin John Edusei (conductor). Royal Opera Home, Covent Backyard, London, 14.10.2022. (CSa)

Juan Diego Flórez (Rodolfo) and Ailyn Pérez (Mimì) © Marc Brenner

Director – Richard Jones
Revival director – Danielle Urbas
Designer – Stewart Laing
Lighting designer – Mimi Jordan Sherin
Refrain director – William Spaulding

Marcello – Andrey Zhilikhovsky
Rodolfo – Juan Diego Flórez
Colline – Michael Mofidian
Schaunard – Ross Ramgobin
Benoît – Jeremy White
Mimì – Ailyn Pérez
Parpignol – Andrew Macnair
Musetta – Danielle de Niese
Alcindoro – Wyn Pencarreg
Customs Officer – John Morrissey
Sergeant – Thomas Barnard

The winter gasoline disaster, an increase within the poverty charge, and a not too long ago reported resurgence of tuberculosis within the UK, gave the Royal Opera Home’s most up-to-date revival of Puccini’s La bohème an sudden topicality. Richard Jones’s 2017 manufacturing remains to be as musically completed and visually contemporary because it was again then, but the acquainted story of 4 bohemians struggling to warmth themselves in a freezing Paris garret, and an opportunity encounter with a consumptive younger lady known as Mimì, has a brand new and surprisingly modern resonance.

Gently falling snowflakes towards a pitch-black backdrop and a Caillebotte impressed, chimney-stacked roofscape, evoke a chilly Christmas Eve within the Latin Quarter. A starkly lit white beamed attic – extra suggestive of Shaker New England than Louis-Napoléon’s Outdated Paris – rolls slowly ahead, thrusting the principals to the entrance of the stage. The poet Rodolfo, ardently sung by the sweetly lyrical Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez, sacrifices the manuscript of the play he’s writing to mild the range, whereas the boisterous painter Marcello – stentorian-voiced Moldovan baritone, Andrey Zhilikhovsky — complains of the bitter chilly. The quartet is quickly accomplished with the arrival of Colline the thinker (the younger and highly effective bass-baritone Michael Mofidian) and Schaunard, a tousle-haired artist, performed by baritone Ross Ramgobin. Along with bread, wine, and a few much-needed wooden, he brings some high-quality comedian timing to the social gathering. The choice by Rodolfo’s mates to proceed their laddish celebrations at Café Momus leaves Rodolfo alone. In a dramatic shift of temper, he encounters and falls desperately and instantly in love with the dying Mimì. Mimì, flickering candle in icy hand, is tenderly portrayed by Ailyn Pérez, a soprano possessed of a stunning, honeyed voice. Rodolfo’s well-known introductory first act aria ‘Che gelida manina’ was fantastically realised and Mimì’s response, ‘Mi chiamano Mimì’, understated, but exquisitely carried out. The 2 singers established an ideal steadiness of their hovering duet ‘O soave fanciulla’, and there was little question that these nice artists labored splendidly properly collectively.

That mentioned, Flórez excels within the lighter, smaller soundworlds of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. His silver voice and impeccable method are maybe not finest suited to the orchestral calls for of Puccini carried out stay, nor, on this manufacturing, large enough to deal with the challenges of the Royal Opera Home auditorium.

Danielle de Niese (Musetta) in La bohème Act II © Marc Brenner

Designer Stewart Laing brilliantly depicts Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s Paris in Act II: a riot of color and sound, through which a marching band, teams of animated faculty kids, buyers and avenue distributors crowd the elegant arcades and mill across the streetlamps of the Latin Quarter. The gilded fin-de-siècle Café Momus is conjured up in a silent shift of surroundings. Right here we first encounter the spirited Musetta (soprano Danielle de Niese). She is in prime type because the red-frocked reveller who stands on a restaurant desk and taunts her ex-boyfriend Marcello by eradicating her knickers.

Grim actuality returns within the third act. The falling snow, which within the first act was as fairly as a Christmas card, has turn into an unrelenting reminder of deep winter. We discover ourselves on the outskirts of the town within the gray mild of daybreak, exterior a tavern on the Barrière d’Enfer. The second when Mimì agrees to half from Rodolfo (‘Donde lieta usci … Addio, senza rancor’) touched the center, and the quartet, which mixes their ultimate farewell with a jealous row between Marcello and Musetta, was convincingly portrayed.

The ultimate act of La bohème performs out within the now acquainted ice-cold attic. In probably the most highly effective and transferring denouements in all opera, Puccini’s lush and vibrant rating, within the fingers of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera Home and below the baton of Kevin John Edusei, takes on an nearly cinematic urgency; the music itself appears to sob. Musetta, who has found the dying Mimì on the foot of the steps, is remodeled from coquette to carer, whereas the rowdy exuberance of the artists provides technique to unhappy resignation. The aria ‘Vecchia zimarra, senti’ sung as Colline prepares to pawn his overcoat, was magnificently resonant, and Rodolfo’s overwhelming grief, fervently conveyed.

La bohème is arguably Puccini’s best and most enduring opera, and 2022 has seen various good productions. Musically, dramatically, and visually, this one is a wonderful and well timed addition. And immediately, greater than ever, it’s compellingly related.

Chris Sallon



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