WNO La bohème at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

WNO La bohème at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review


Posted 2022-11-11 by dpmfollow

Wed 09 Nov 2022 - Fri 11 Nov 2022

The opening scene of Puccini's La bohème, in which four penniless artists discuss how to keep warm when they cannot afford heating, may feel uncannily familiar but this is 19th century Paris not Birmingham in 2022.

The tale of the Bohemian artists and their lovers forms the plot of the famous opera with one couple, Rodolfo and Mimi, at its heart. Meeting on a freezing Christmas Eve, they rapidly fall madly in love but their affair is to be short-lived as Mimi is slowly but surely dying.

It is hardly a cheerful story yet Puccini's opera blends heart-aching tragedy with comedy, particularly at the hands of the artists who burn their books to keep warm, cheat their landlord to save on the rent and party away as if they did not have a care in the world.

This Welsh National Opera production at Birmingham Hippodrome sets the story firmly in its original period and does not land any sudden surprises. People who already know La bohème, and indeed those coming to it for the first time, will enjoy it for its story, characters and wonderful music.

Pietro Rizzo conducts the WNO Orchestra through Puccini's sublime score and the show is packed full of beautiful arias and duets, many of which such as Musetta's Waltz, Che gelida la manina and Mi chiamano Mimi, will be familiar to people who may not know the full opera.

Elin Pritchard plays the consumptive Mimi. When we first meet her she is flirty and in love but she struggles in a relationship where she finds Rodolfo so jealous. Little does she realise his jealousy is prompted by the knowledge she is dying – a fact she seems unaware of. Jung Soo Yun is the romantic Rodolfo who gives his heart away on meeting Mimi and is prepared to sacrifice his own happiness in an attempt to help Mimi stay well.

The intensity of their relationship is contrasted with that of another couple – Marcello and Musetta, who constantly row about her flirting with other men. Rodion Pogossov's Marcello attempts to make light of the fact Musetta is more interested in diamonds than love but Puccini ensures we realise he too has his heart burnt. Aoife Miskelly is a winsome Musetta, pulled between her desire for Marcello and her desire for a glamorous life.

Originally directed by Annabel Arden and directed on this tour by Caroline Chaney, the production is easy to watch and quickly pulls us in with its likeable characters and sense of familiarity. Stephen Brimson Lewis's designs bring alive the artists' freezing garret and a Left Bank café.

WNO perform La bohème at Birmingham Hippodrome until Friday 11 November and then a new work Migrations on Saturday 12 November.

#theatre -reviews
!date 09/11/2022 -- 11/11/2022
70805 - 2023-01-26 01:49:31


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