Every time I go to an opera show, I have a strong feeling of déjà vu. That’s because opera stories are the original love, hate and everything in-between stories, those we know, those we listened to, those stories we would recognise from anywhere. Stories that remind us of the women in our life, and, often, told by the women in our life.
Take La Bohème for instance: man meets woman, they fall in love at first sight and then life ruins everything. Sounds familiar?
La Bohème is opera at its finest, two hours and twenty minutes of intense, heart-breaking, beautiful music and just the most approachable, genuine characters. La Bohème , signed, sealed and delivered by the Welsh National Opera, is so much more.
If you are not familiar, the plot goes something like this: on a cold Christmas Eve, four artists-a painter, a musician, a poet and a philosopher – have their lives changed forever when they are unexpectedly visited by their neighbour, the lovely, beautiful, Mimì. She is cold, not well, and looking for candlelight. Rodolfo is the one who opens the door and the one who falls in love with her at first sight but Mimì has an impact on every single character, everyone loves her. She is a lover of Spring, poetry to Rodolfo’s poet, and every single one of these penniless artists, and their lovers, try to help her after she gets sick.
The performance was nothing but exceptional. Every single character played beautifully and the group scenes, particularly those with the four artists, were a pleasure to look at. It’s difficult to find a group that works so well together, casting was spot on. The same thing applies to Mimì and Rodolfo, the best main characters duo I have witnessed in a very long time. Rodolfo (Jung Soo Yun) was played with a sweetness and none of the arrogance which so often taints tenors’ performances while Mimì (Elin Pritchard) was sublime: her performance during the last scene when she repeats the song she first sings at the beginning of the relationship when she introduces herself to Rodolfo (“Mi chiamano Mimì”) had me, and every single member of the audience, in [dignified] sobs.
I particularly loved Musetta, she usually adds a note of colour and laughter to a very intense opera but Aoife Miskelly was a joy to look at. Something I would mention is the setting. In the past years, the Welsh National Opera, has worked extremely hard to produce shows that are current and innovative. We saw this last year with Madame Butterfly, another triumph. La Bohème is no different: the setting, the lights and the tech was extremely well-coordinated and beautiful to see, you could tell it was going to be something special.
Two hours flew by, [this only happens when something is truly exceptional]. I would definitely recommend you go see La Bohème, I am actually a bit jealous of anyone who is going to experience it for the very first time. Bring tissues.