La Bohème – a classic

Posted on Mar 31 2017 - 1:03pm by Claire Herbaux
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The Welsh National Opera is back in Bristol with three new operas: Le vin herbé, La Bohème, and Madam Butterfly.

La Bohème is one of the best known operas and it is the second time it is performed by the Welsh National Opera.

Giacomo Puccini’s opera was first performed in 1896 in Italy. It is set in Paris on Christmas Eve. Four artist friends are on their way to the café to celebrate. While three leave, Rodolfo, the poet, stays behind to write a little more. This is how he meets Mimi, the neighbour, who knocks on his door when her candle has gone out. They fall in love.

When the two join the others at the café, Marcello, the painter, reunites with Musetta, a lover.

In act three, Mimi comes to see Marcello because she is unhappy with Rodolpho: He is jealous and possessive. She is very ill, and Rodolfo and Mimi decide to separate after the winter.

A few months later, Mimi returns, ill and dying. They all do their best to help her, pawning items to buy medicine and calling a doctor, but it is too late for Mimi.

La Boheme: Dominick Chenes as Rodolfo and Marina Costa-Jackson as Mimi (Credit: Robert Workman)

The women were the stars of the show, both Mimi, performed last night by Marina Costa-Jackson and Musetta (Lauren Fagan) were fantastic in their roles, rising to the high standard set by the long history of the opera. They had a clarity and ease in their voice you will only get in opera.

Rodolfo, played on the night by Dominick Chenes, was best in his love songs to Mimi. A beautiful, light tenor, which cannot compete with the orchestra in a dramatic scene, but when he tells Mimi she is as beautiful as a flower, or a the sunrise, it transports you.

Especially in the most dramatic scenes, including the tragic end, the orchestra is at the heart of the opera. You forget what is around you, forget surtitles, the music tells the story, and this is the best part about some of the most iconic operas.

The Welsh National Opera is at the Bristol Hippodrome tonight (March 31) and tomorrow (April 1) with Madam Buttefly at 7.17pmTickets are available at ATG.

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