A sharply crafted, visually stunning and beautifully sung La bohème is a triumphant finale to the 2016/17 Scottish Opera season.
The creative team of André Barbe and Renauld Doucet, last seen in 2014 with the glorious Don Pasquale, have taken Puccini’s masterpiece of Italian opera and reset it to the 1920s. The era of ‘The Lost Generation’, when the world’s creative souls converged on Paris to live the bohemian life among the flea markets, jazz clubs and free spirits.
What the pair have achieved is to take the world’s most frequently performed opera, tone down the schmaltz and restore its humour and joie de vivre. Despite the frozen bohemians burning their books, the warmth of their spirits shine through in this production.
This is a production whose success is a result of a perfect coming together of all its parts: composer, conductor, cast, design, direction and orchestra. Vital and vibrant it is a winner in every area.
There are a brace of fine vocal performances: Hye-Youn Lee is a vocally elegant Mimi with an incredibly ear-pleasing and distinctive tone. She perfectly expresses Mimi’s demise without descending into melodrama. Luis Gomes (Rodolfo) is a beautifully toned tenor, however, he is frequently overpowered by the orchestra and Jeanine de Bique is an eye and ear-catching, Josephine Baker-ish Musetta, complete with pet cheetah.
André Barbe’s set is a star in itself. Bristling with life, it is a lavish cacophony of colour and meticulous detail. You will be hard pressed to see a more visually stunning production all year.
This perennial favourite’s standing as the world’s most popular opera shows no sign of abating and this stunner of a production from Scottish Opera will live long in the memory. A stand-out 5 stars.
All images: Sally Jubb
Tours to Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh – more information at: http://www.scottishopera.org.uk/