The opera, La boheme, is set in Paris in 1830, and reflects the birth of Bohemian culture, blending nostalgia and innovation, and brought to life with drama, music, voices and lovely instrumental contributions in harmony.
Ambitious scenery moving on the Festival Theatre’s large stage took the enthralled audience from a large block of flats to street scenes and bars and gave the opera a frenetic and roller-coaster feel. In four Acts, La boheme portrayed energy, fun, distraction and poignancy in a musical melee with surprising entrances of for example uniformed Customs Officers, a military band and, from nowhere a large group of excited children.
Essentially, the story of Mimi and her love, Rodolfo, who adore each other, is a timeless theme. As so often happens in real life, Â the path of true love does not run smoothly and the parallel love story of Musetta and Marcello weaves its way throughout. This challenging production deals with events with both lightness and profound messages, wrapped up in beautiful singing, orchestral music, acting with laughter and, of course, tears never far away.
The eventual sad and moving death of Mimi is meant to represent ‘the end of carefree youthfulness’, and Stefano Valanzuolo comments: ‘La Boheme also seems to signal the end of an Era.’ On the face of it the Christmas scene is full of happiness and fun. But underneath runs the timeless theme of love and loss, riotous living and poverty in almost equal measure. The latter comment is shown by the scene where Musetta makes an elegant appearance with an older admirer, Alendoro. When Musetta sees Marcello she is determined to win him back. Towards the end of a meal being shared the lovers flee the scene with the distraction suddenly of a passing military band and the quartet make off leaving Alandro to pay the bill!
Directed by Alex Olle with the distinguished conduction Giandrea Noseda, the Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino, Claudio Fenoglio, Chorus Master and NYCOS Edinburgh Choir conductor, Mark Evans, talented actors and soloists providing the first-rate singing, acting combined with brilliant settings this was altogether entrancing at every level.
Of all the events I have attended during this 70th year of celebration of the Edinburgh International Festival the performance of La Boheme the opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini with a libretto by Guiseppe Giacosa and Luigi after Henry Murger’s scenes de la vue this was truly exciting and memorable.