Image Credit: Opera North
Opera North's La Boheme is currently gracing the stage at the Leeds Grand Theatre (May 2014). Transported back to the 1950s, Christmas Eve, where an introduction was made to fellow artists Rodolfo (Ji-Min Park), Marcello (Duncan Rock), Schaunard (John Savournin) and Colline (Barnaby Rea) are in their flat surviving, keeping warm and making plans albeit financially hard times during a Parisian winter.
The contemporary and fresh interpretation of Phyllida Lloyd's production tells the story of Rodolfo's and Mimi's (Anita Watson) love journey from beginning to end despite the poverty around them. Love, no matter what circumstances, conquers all even through tragic times as evident in the opera.
Anthony Ward's staging and costumes focus on the festive carnival feel of Parisian's Joie de Vivre especially its nostalgic cafe life. However, in contrast, one of the sets show inside of Rodolfo's and his fellow Bohemians' flat which indicate a grim reality of a penniless life but full of their rich creativity. Rick Fisher's lighting contemplates the moods and cues of the operatic direction of this production.
The tragic love story is sung beautifully and emotionally by an exceptional talented cast including the the artists already mentioned and also Sky Ingram as the seductive Musetta, Jeremy Parker (Benoit/Alcindoro) and Paul Rendal (Parpignol). The opera is told colourfully with its joyful Joie de Vivre despite the poignant themes and a wide range of emotions thoroughly expressed in song.
Puccini's opera is musically rich and conducted in tradition by Ilyich Rivas. Michael Baker-Craven and Maxine Braham gave Phyllida Lloyd's masterpiece a thorough revival. Themes and emotions were raised from La Boheme are not any different to today's society than it was in Puccini's era or in the 1950s as in this production. One sees parallels of today with many struggling to make ends meet and many look at love and creativity for survival as shown in La Boheme. One thing is clear is love is possible in all circumstances and predicaments.
A highly recommend production of one of Puccin's popular and legendary operas. A must see! Further information can be found via Opera North's official website site by clicking onto this link.
Sources: Opera North, Grand Theatre Leeds