Boheme - May 2009
Boheme is Brilliant
Theatre Bromley 27th May 2009
word 'bohemien' was used in France since the 16th century when
referring to gypsies. But later it came to be connected with
the counter-culture of young artists in the Latin Quarter of
19th century Paris.
with a libretto based on the novel 'Scenes de la vie de boheme'
by Henry Murger', was first performed at the Teatro Regio, Turin
in 1896 under the baton of the young Toscanini.
now considered to be one of the most popular and best-loved operas
ever written, combining characterisation, sentiment and craftsmanship
it has the perfect blend of joy and pathos. At the beginning
we have all the excitement and ebullience of youth, enjoying
student life and loving and by the end of the opera, they have
experienced their first taste of death at first hand.
a well-known opera could leave itself wide open to criticism,
however tonight's performance by Kentish Opera cannot have disappointed
many of it's audience. Artistic director, Sally Langford should
be delighted with her latest production.
most convincingly constructed little tiny attic room there is
much camaraderie between Marcello and Rodolfo. Despite hunger,
cold and lack of money, cheerfulness prevails. In their duet
'Questo mar Rosso' they cheerily agree to burn their own work.
David Newman did well stepping into Philip O'Brien's 'place as
Rodolfo and the rapport between him and Mimi (Ruth Kerr) came
out in their love duet 'O soave fanciulla (lovely maid in the
moonlight) beautifully sung by the new lovers. This theme reocurs
several times during the opera.
Colline (Andrew Kidd) Schaunard (Mark Saberton) have smaller
parts, their voices were well-chosen and their cavorting was
played a big part in this production and Janice Bevan brought
out a beautiful sound. I felt that Mark Fitz-Gerald's orchestra
needed to play just a little softer.
Stevenson's costumes introduced a wonderful array of colour as
Act II opened revealing the Café Momus in the Latin Quarter
on Christmas Eve. In amongst the 'sea' of people and children
there are snatches of chorus and recitative which run through
the scene and enhance the general merriment. The chorus did well
and the children were a joy, clearly well-rehearsed, seemingly
in control of their roles and enjoying the privilege of being
part of it all.
(Marcello's ex girlfriend - Rebecca Hodgetts) was excellently
cast as a fickle and flirtatious young woman out for all she
could get. Her waltz song 'Quando m'en vo' (As through the streets
I wander) not only brought out her lovely soprano voice but also
brought back her lover Marcello! We hear more of Marcello (Peter
Grevatt's) mellow baritone voice in the third act.
in the last Act which starts as the four young men frolic around
the attic and Rodolfo, still feeling let down by Mimi, sings
'Ah Mimi, tu piu non torni' (Ah Mimi, fickle-hearted) but almost
at once the atmosphere changes when Musetta brings in Mimi, now
clearly dying of consumption.
'Che gelida manina' and 'Mi chiamano Mimi' from their first love
song return as laments and Mimi very gracefully and silently
slips away, leaving the distraught Rodolfo desperately crying
out her name.