Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

LA Opera Presents Figaro 90210

Figaro 90210 is Vid Guerrerio’s modern version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo DaPonte’s 1786 opera, The Marriage of Figaro.

Tristan und Isolde at the Wiener Staatsoper

David McVicar’s production of Wagner’s seminal music drama runs aground on the Cornish coast.

Songs of Night and Travel, Wigmore Hall

The coming of ‘Night’ brings darkness, shadows and mystery; sleep, dreams and nightmares; fancies, fantasies and passions.

Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera

Umberto’s Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, now at the Royal Opera House, is no more about history than Jesus Christ Superstar is about theology.

Yevgeny Onegin in Warsaw

Mariusz Treliński’s staging of Tchaikovsky’s operatic masterpiece is visually fascinating but psychologically confusing

Orfeo at the Roundhouse, Royal Opera

The regal trumpets and sackbuts sound their bold herald and, followed by admiring eyes, the powers of state and church begin their dignified procession along a sloping walkway to assume their lofty positions upon the central dais.

Idomeneo in Montpellier

Vestiges of a momentous era . . .

L’elisir d’amore in Marseille

There were hints that L’elisir is one of the great bel canto masterpieces.

Das Liebesverbot opens the new season at Teatro Verdi in Trieste

Aron Stiehl’s production of this rare early Wagner opera cheerfully brings commedia dell’arte to La Cage aux Folles.

Amsterdam: Lohengrin Lite

Stage director Pierre Audi is not one to be strictly representational in his story telling.

Fidelio, Manitoba Opera

For the first time in its 42-year history, Manitoba Opera presented Beethoven’s mighty ode to freedom, Fidelio, with an extraordinary production that resonated as loudly as tolling bells of freedom.

The Hilliard Ensemble: Farewell Concert at Wigmore Hall

Forty-one years is a long time for any partnership to be sustained and to flourish — be it musical, commercial or marital! And, given The Hilliard Ensemble’s ongoing reputation as one of the world’s finest a cappella groups, noted for their performances of works dating from the 11 th century to the present day, it must have been a tough decision to call an end to more than four decades of superlative music-making.

Fidelio opens new season at La Scala

Daniel Barenboim makes a triumphant departure as direttore musicale del Teatro alla Scala with Beethoven’s operatic masterpiece.

Mahler Songs: Christian Gerhaher, Wigmore Hall

Star singer and star composer, a combination guaranteed to bring in the fans. Christian Gerhaher sang Mahler at the Wigmore Hall with Gerold Huber. Gerhaher shot to fame when he sang Wolfram at the Royal Opera House Tannhäuser in 2010.

Modernity vanquished? Verdi Un ballo in maschera, Royal Opera House, London

Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera at the Royal Opera House — a masked ball in every sense, where nothing is quite what it seems.

La Traviata in Ljubljana Slovenia

Small country, small opera house — big ensemble spirit. Internationally acclaimed soprano Natalia Ushakova steps in for indisposed local Violetta with mixed results.

Otello in Bucharest — Moor’s the pity

Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova’s production of Otello for the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest was certainly full of new ideas — unfortunately all bad.

Il trovatore at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its current revival of the 2006-2007 production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore by Sir David McVicar Lyric Opera has assembled a talented quintet of principal singers whose strengths match this conception of the opera.

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Wigmore Hall

O Maria Deo grata — ‘O Mary, pleasing to God’: so begins Robert Fayrfax’s antiphon, one of several supplications to the Virgin Mary presented in this thought-provoking concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at the Wigmore Hall.

Analyzed not demonized — Tristan und Isolde, Royal Opera House

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, first revival of the 2009 production, one of the first to attract widespread hostility even before the curtain rose on the first night.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

La Boheme [Image courtesy of Manitoba Opera]
23 Apr 2014

La Bohème, Manitoba

Manitoba Opera’s first production in nine years of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème still stirs the heart and inspires tears with its tragic tale of bohemian artists living — and loving — in 1840s Paris.

La Bohème, Manitoba

A review by Holly Harris

Above image courtesy of Manitoba Opera

 

Three performances of the quintessentially romantic opera based on Henri Murger’s Scènes de la Vie de Bohème were held April 5 - 11 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall.

Canadian opera/theatre director Brian Deedrick, who also helmed MO’s April 2013 production of Aida, once again displayed his clear artistic vision and deft attention to detail, including adding effective bits of stage business to create further textural layering.

Realistic sets by Wolfram Skalicki (on loan from Edmonton Opera), lit by Bill Williams, included a cutaway garret worthy of any starving artist and jaw-dropping Latin Quarter street-café and city park scenes complete with gently falling snow. Maestro Daniel Lipton led the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra through Puccini’s lushly orchestrated score that teems with one soaring melody after another.

Marking her MO debut, American soprano Danielle Pastin imbued her lead role of Mimì with heart-wrenching pathos, her clear voice and artfully executed phrasing first displayed during tender aria “Mi chiamano Mimì.” As she became increasingly wrought with “consumption,” her voice only grew in luminosity until her final, poignant duet sung with Rodolfo: “Sono andati?”

Rodolfo performed by Eric Fennell (MO debut) often felt eclipsed by the orchestra and rest of the strong cast, his otherwise fine lyric tenor not always fully projecting and perilously close to becoming subsumed during aria “Che gelida manina.” He fared better during ensemble numbers, such as the sparks-flying quartet “Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!” where the two lead couples contrapuntally play off eacher other.

American tenor Keith Phares (MO debut) delivered a standout performance as smock-wearing artiste Marcello, Rodolfo’s friend and lover of saucy playgirl Musetta. He painted his character with testosterone-fuelled swagger, brooding about love with Rodolfo during duet “O Mimi, tu più non torni.”

The perfectly cast Winnipeg soprano Lara Ciekiewicz first flounced onstage as Musetta with her hapless “mummy” and sugar daddy, Alcindoro (bass-baritone David Watson, doubling as landlord Benoit) before delivering an effervescent “Quando me’n vo’.” The gifted actress embarked on her own emotional trajectory that ends when she reveals a beating heart of gold during the final act.

And the Act’s finale where the choristers join Musetta in her lilting waltz is opera at its most lump-in-the-throat, glorious best.

Bass-baritone Giles Tomkins (MO debut) also crafted a convincing philosopher Colline, who particularly shone during aria “Vecchia zimarra,” as did baritone Peter McGillivray as musician Schaunard. The male ensemble’s camaraderie became palpable as the four flatmates jousted with baguettes and mused about life, love and how they were going to make next month’s rent.

Opera’s calling card is spectacle, and the MO Chorus (prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki), Children’s Chorus (Carolyn Boyes) augmented by a motley crew of ragtag supernumeraries created enthralling eye candy during Act 2’s street scene, including their lively “Aranci, datteri! Caldi i marroni!” Gendarmerie, street urchins, a marching band, Pierrot character and an all-too-fleeting appearance by toy vendor Parpignol (reprised by Winnipeg’s Peter Klymkiw) added to the full-bore sensory experience that elicited audible gasps from the audience.

Holly Harris

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):