Wednesday, January 23, 2019

La Bohème

Last night David and I saw Chicago Lyric's production of Puccini's La Bohème. This would never be my favorite production of this opera for various reasons.

The cast were all strong singers but were hampered by poor stage direction and impossible scenery. 

Zachery Nelson as Marcello, Michael Fabiano sang the role of Rodolfo, Adrian Sampetrean was Colline, Ricardo Jose Rivera was Schaunard, Maria Agresta was Mimi and Danielle de Niese was Musetta.

My favorite production of this opera was one I saw at the Met years ago. Mimi was sung by Dorothy Kirsten, one of the most beautiful voices and beautiful women to grace the operatic stage. Ms. Agresta doesn't begin to match this kind of singing. Possibly no one does. 

Image result for dorothy kirsten photos 

Kirsten made her debut at the Met in 1945 and sang there for the next thirty years. She was in her sixties when I heard her heart-breaking Mimi. There is an amazing recording of her on You Tube singing 'Depuis le jour' at age 71. It's worth listening to!

Last night's staging and sets bothered me. The garret in Acts one and four was about as minimal as could be. Mimi had to die lying on the floor.

Act two was a mish mosh of three separate sets that filled the stage forcing the large cast and chorus to hug the footlights. It was often difficult to find the principals in this setting.

In Act three the stage director had a tall male standing with his back to the audience completely blocking Mimi, who was singing at the time. Really dumb stagecraft.

The opera got rave reviews in Chicago papers. Maybe I'm just too old- or the Chicago reviewers have never heard Ms. Kirsten or seen another production of the opera. It would be good if they did this!