Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

The Enchantresse and Dido and Aeneas
in Lyon

Dido and Aeneas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse and Tchaikowsky’s L’Enchantresse, the three operas of the Opéra de Lyon’s annual late March festival all tease destiny. But far more striking than the thematic relationship that motivates this 2019 festival is the derivation of these three productions from the world of hyper-refined theater, far flung hyper-refined theater.

The devil shares the good tunes: Chelsea Opera Group's Mefistofele

Every man ‘who burns with a thirst for knowledge and life and with curiosity about the nature of good and evil is Faust ... [everyone] who aspires to the Unknown, to the Ideal, is Faust’.

La forza del destino at Covent Garden

Prima la music, poi la parole? It’s the perennial operatic conundrum which has exercised composers from Monteverdi, to Salieri, to Strauss. But, on this occasion we were reminded that sometimes the answer is a simple one: Non, prima le voci!

Barbara Hannigan sings Berg and Gershwin at the Barbican Hall

I first heard Barbara Hannigan in 2008.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

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):