FEATURE: English National Opera (ENO) La Boheme DVD
Jonathan Miller’s Depression-period La Bohème got a lukewarm reception from the critics when it first appeared on stage in 2009/10 but here it transfers unexpectedly well to the small screen. This actually grabbed me right from the start. Isabella Bywater’s street-scene sets (based on images of 1930s Paris by the famous Hungarian photographer, sculptor and filmmaker Brassaï) look cinematically realistic and the superb lighting by Jean Kalman adds to the atmosphere of the production.
The story is well told and the production, sung in English (I’m sure the ENO is conscious of the need to increase the accessibility of opera to the masses) won’t be to the purists tastes, but, for the most-part is easy to hear on screen and gives an immediacy to Puccini’s masterpiece which is often lacking in most opera performances.
Alfie Boe (above) excels, and if not all the cast are ideal, (the female lead US soprano Melody Moore being less than inspiring as the consumptive Mimi, she’s also a tad robust looking to be convincing and is also utterly unintelligible in her upper range, her enunciation is shocking, she seems to be stringing together a range of vocal scales rather than words) the four bohemians (Roland Wood, Pauls Putnins and David Stout) interact well together, and their horseplay in Act IV is perfectly done.