I don’t think I’ve ever had another opera affect me more than La Boheme at Music Hall last night. Puccini, of course, produced real magic. So many of the arias and melodies have made their way into our culture. And the sad love story is over the top, as opera always is.
I had seen it before, and was expecting more of a workhorse/well worn opera. Instead, this remake, set in 1930’s Paris. had me from the first moments. The voices of the two principals, Rodolfo and Mimi, were perfection, and when they sang together, the entire audience melted. They fell in love at first sight, as she came to ask for help in re-lighting her candle. Then she lost her key, and when he found it, he kept quiet until she agreed to go out with he and his friends for supper. Where they encountered the sexy Musetta, who was an ex-lover of Rodolfo’s friend Marcello.
So we’re following two love stories, and the increasing cough of Mimi. The gray buildings in the background, with snow falling, as they try to work things out. And then her final visit to the apartment of Marcelo and Rodolfo – just after the 4 guy friends had really been celebrating and having fun, forgetting all their troubles.
The little touches Puccini inserted were so real, and the staging – so inventive, with two buildings moving into various configurations in nearly the blink of an eye. But it’s the music, those soaring voices, the beautiful singers who had us standing and applauding for at least 10 minutes after the last note.
Hurrah for Cincinnati Opera. Another star in their crown!