Wednesday, 15 October 2008

La Boheme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

La Boheme - and this John Copley production of it - benefits from youthful casting. The lightly-worn cares, impecuniousness and impetuousness of the first two acts are borne out in a busy staging. Last night's cast worked hard. Christopher Maltman's Marcello is a substantial presence; in an ensemble piece where everyone is always on Marcello is always at the front of both music and staging. Wookyung Kim rolled out a beautiful, consistent lyric sound as Rodolfo.

Alexia Voulgaridou's Mimi was most affecting. Despite the great tumescent blooms of love-music that both must ride and carry in the first act, Mimi's is a part of considerable delicacy. Voulgaridou's greatest achievement was in summoning a fine pianissimo at crucial moments. Her expiration in Act 4 drew an attention that no other set piece achieved to that point.

As is often the way, the greatest performance was from the orchestra who managed a more superior flexibility, tone and ensemble than their colleagues at the Coliseum had managed at the weekend. But then I'd imagine that there are probably some in the pit who have been playing this piece with one another since Copley first introduced this delightful staging when most of the cast were still children.