A review of La Boheme by Nicholas Newman
Ellen Kent’s production of La Boheme at Oxford’s New Theatre 16 February 2017.
La Boheme perhaps one of Puccini’s most famous operas, set in Paris’s Latin Quarter of the 1840’s, it is very loosely based on a Henri Murger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians. Unlike many similar operas of the period, it shows the grim reality for many people living in the slums of Paris.
Despite the problems faced by the characters, there is still time to enjoy oneself, including opportunities to get drunk, eat, dance and even fall in love. Puccini’s opera is not a faithful adaptation of the original book; instead, it focuses on the sad love affair between the girl-next-door Mimi and the poet Rodolfo.
La Boheme production
As for the production itself, the sets depicting interior rooms, public spaces and rooftops are very stark, though it is puzzling that Paris’s Eiffel Tower is depicted in the background of some of the scenes, for a story set in the 1840’s when construction of this edifice did not begin until 28 January 1887.
However, in contrast, the sound and music production values produced by the orchestra was sumptuous and supported the singing superbly.
In the case of the cast, this production showed the high quality of the mainly Moldavian performers that are being produced from music academies today.
I especially enjoyed the work of Olga Perrier playing the fashionista Musetta and Iurie Gisca who portrays a time-worn man about town artist was superb.
This opera sang in Italian with English surtitles, is a great opportunity to feed your cultural senses. Like all Ellen Kent productions, it is well worth seeing.
UK Tour 2017
Ellen Kent Productions is touring Puccini’s La Boheme, Verdi’s Aida and Verdi’s Nabucco around the UK and Ireland.
For companies seeking to sponsor the work of Ellen Kent Productions contact http://www.ellenkent.com/