I’ve had tickets booked for this since July. I’d chosen this wintry opera as my festive theatrical viewing this year. It’s a score that I’m familiar with in parts but I’ve never seen it all the way through.
Opera is often a spectacular form of theatre, lavish sets, huge casts makes for a larger than life experience, however La Boheme is a much more intimate opera, and for me that was its real strength, it draws you into the lives of its protagonists Rodolfo and Mimi without any superfluous scenes or characters. This is why I think it is so effective emotionally as a piece too. There was not a dry eye in the house at the end, one person near us was actually sobbing at the end they were so moved.
Puccini’s score melodiously moves us along, and feels very much a complete score, some opera’s can feel quite disjointed musically, La Boheme, just flows through the entire length of the opera.
I was genuinely excited to see Mark Elder conducting the Royal Opera House Orchestra, as I ‘ve said before they are my favourite orchestra. Mark Elder in the recent TV show Maestro used the Act II scene from La Boheme as one of the challenges for the celebrity conductors. It really is an amazing piece of opera with a huge amount of action happening on stage, Mark Elder at the baton, kept what could become a chaotic scene in harmonious order.
Rolando Villazon as Rodolfo was the highlight for me, I’m getting to the position now where I’ve seen enough opera to be able to compare and contrast productions and performers. Rolando Villazon’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen, what a voice. Puccini’s score gives him a chance to really show us the depth of feeling and power his voice has, an amazing performance, I’ll definitely make sure I see him in a future production at the Royal Opera House.
Maija Kovalevska as Mimi, moved us, her beautiful voice touched us all. As I said, people were in tears at the end and that is due to the fact she connected with us all. The chemistry between her and Rodolfo was just right.
Audun Iversen and Stefania Dovhan as tempestuous couple Marcello and Musetta, gave a great foil to Mimi and Rodolfo, comedic when needed and fiery, flirtatious lovers the rest of the time. Musetta’s seduction scene in Act II was great fun.
Act III’s wintry snow scene was a special moment for me, but the final Act as I said moved me in a way few pieces of theatre have.
This has been one of the theatrical highs for 2012 for me, Puccini’s score is stunning, but I found it refreshing to be at an opera which spoke to the heart, engaged with our emotions and was about the characters on stage. Director John Copley is to be congratulated for chosing to focus on the heart of the piece and allowing us to be drawn into this tragically moving piece of theatre.
STARS : * * * * (and a half)