Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Daniel Kramer's new La traviata at English National Opera

Verdi's La traviata is one of those opera which every opera company needs to have in its repertoire, and productions need to balance intelligent exploration of the issues raised by the work with the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with an opera which is likely to attract audience members who are not regular opera-goers.

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.

Turandot in San Diego—Prima la voce

The big musical set pieces in Turandot require voice, voice, and more voice, and San Diego Opera has gifted us with a world-class cast of singing actors.

Dialogues de Carmélites at the Guildhall School: spiritual transcendence and transfiguration

Four years have passed since my last Dialogues des Carmélites, and on that occasion - Robert Carsen’s production for the ROH - heightened dramatic intensity, revolutionary insurrection (enhanced by an oppressed populace formed by a 67-strong Community Ensemble) and, under the baton of Simon Rattle, luxuriant musical rapture, were the order of the day.

'B & B’ in a new key

Seattle Opera’s new production of Béatrice et Bénédict is best regarded as a noble experiment, performed expressly to see if Berlioz’ delectable 1862 opéra comique can successfully be brought into the living repertory outside its native France. As such, it is quite a success.

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

San Jose’s Dutchman Treat

At my advanced age, I have now experienced ten different productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in my opera-going lifetime, but Opera San Jose’s just might be the finest.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.



Mario Chang as Rodolfo and Olga Busuioc as Mimi [Photo by Ken Howard]
30 May 2016

La bohème, LA Opera

On May 25, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented a revival of the Herbert Ross production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, La bohème. Stage director, Peter Kazaras, made use of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s wide stage by setting some scenes usually seen inside the garret on the surrounding roof instead.

La bohème, LA Opera

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Mario Chang as Rodolfo and Olga Busuioc as Mimi [Photo by Ken Howard]


Since the partially constructed Eiffel Tower can be seen in the background, the time of the action is set between 1887 and 1889. Attractive costumes by Peter J. Hall and Jeannique Prospere also set the time and place.

In Act I, the occupants of a rooftop apartment: Operalia winning tenor Mario Chang as Rodolfo, the writer, baritones Giorgio Caduro and Kihun Yoon as Marcello, the painter and Schaunard, the musician, along with bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee as Colline the philosopher, cavorted like college students. After Yoon’s warm-voiced rendition of Schaunard’s story, all four residents proceeded to enjoy the food he bought with the money he earned taking care of an ill-fated parrot. When he was alone in the garret, Rodolfo opened the door to Mimi, sung by Olga Busuioc. He started off with polished tones and her presence was magical. She had a sweet sounding middle register that was easy on the ear and her top notes bloomed like roses.

Kazaras’s second act was a Christmas Eve spectacular topped off by a comedic skit featuring the narcissistic Musetta. As the latter, Operalia winner Amanda Woodbury arrived in a horseless carriage from which she alighted in the utmost of 1880s finery to sing her Waltz Song with great tonal beauty and graceful phrasing. Philip Cokorinos, who had been amusing as Benoit, the landlord, was equally interesting as Alcindoro, Musetta’s long suffering sugar daddy. As Marcello, stentorian voiced Giorgio Caduro also suffered considerable indignity as Musetta made obvious advances to him right in front of Alcindoro. The chorus, including children, the stage banda, and many supernumeraries combined to show the California audience that Los Angeles can put on as grand a show as any opera company in the world.

In Act III, Marcello began arguing with Musetta and she joined him in a name-calling contest. At the same time, Mimì had come through the snow looking for Rodolfo. Busuioc and Chang sang an exquisite duet and, at its end, the soprano sang a most moving “Addio senza rancor.” Act IV brought the audience back to the men’s garret. Musetta brought the physically failing Mimì to the rooftop where she lay on a chaise in the open air while her friends tried to get her medical help. As Colline, Nicholas Brownlee sang his Overcoat Aria with burnished bronze tones and Musetta, having reformed her character, sells her earrings to pay Mimì's medical bill. Chang's acting was outstanding as his Rodolfo showed how much he loved the woman whose illness frightened him.

Conductor Speranza Scappucci, who had been giving a highly detailed rendition of the score, was at her best in Act IV. Words could never express the emotion that her orchestra encompassed at Mimì’s quiet death. Throughout the opera, Scappucci offered a luminous and often translucent accompaniment that showed the composer’s mastery of the art of orchestration and her ability as a conductor to weave his many threads into a complete whole. This was a truly fine performance of Puccini’s score that should be remembered for a long time

Maria Nockin

Cast and production details:

Marcello, Giorgio Caduro; Rodolfo, Mario Chang; Colline, Nicholas Brownlee; Schaunard, Kihun Yoon; Benoit and Alcindoro, Philip Cokorinos; Mimì, Olga Busuioc; Prune Vendor, John Kimberling; Parpignol, Arnold Livingston Geis; Musetta, Amanda Woodbury; Customs House Officer, Gregory Geiger; Sergeant, Reid Bruton; Conductor, Speranza Scappucci; Original Production, Herbert Ross; Stage Director, Peter Kazaras; Set Designer, Gerard Howland; Costume Designer, Peter J. Hall; Additional Costumes, Jeannique Prospere; Lighting Designer, Duane Schuler; Original Choreography, Peggy Hickey; Recreated by John Todd; Chorus Director, Grant Gershon; Children’s Chorus Director, Anne Tomlinson; Supertitles, David Anglin.

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):