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La Boheme

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Forty years after its first night, John Copley’s production of Puccini’s tragic Parisian romance returns yet again for another revival exemplifying traditional operatic values on the way to their best. The Royal Opera has announced that next season’s revival will definitely be the last – so catch it while you can.

It’s been an amazing run, and though this is hardly a vintage team on the first night, strong elements will give much pleasure during a double cast revival some of the major stars, in fact, are saved up for Cast 2.

Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho sings Mimi. Too often she sing sharp, maybe as a result of applying too much pressure on the voice – a problem that also afflicts Markus Werba’s otherwise vital and engaging Marcello; but she’s often touching as an actress, if a little contrived.

Looking very much the part of the sincere young writer with whom Mimi becomes involved, American tenor Charles Castronovo makes an eminently likable Rodolfo. Of the four central principals, Romanian soprano Simona Mihai creates the biggest splash as a lively, pinpoint-accurate Musetta.

Daniel Grice could make more of Schaunard, but Korean bass Jongmin Park delivers a Colline to remember, making a memorable moment out of his famous Coat Song. Of the two old buffers mercilessly tormented by the careless young people, Jeremy White is as strong a Benoit as Donald Maxwell is a fine Alcindoro.

Making his Royal Opera debut in the pit is German conductor Cornelius Meister. He’s somewhat clinical in approach, observing the detail while occasionally needing a greater sense of emotional sweep.

George Hall

  • Royal Opera House, London
  • July 9-19, PN July 9
  • Composer/librettists: Giacomo Puccini/Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica
  • Director: John Copley
  • Design: Julia Trevelyan Oman set, costume, John Charlton lighting
  • Technical: Peter Mario Katona casting, Nic Harris production, Gary Mardon company stage manager, Royal Opera House Production Department wardrobe, wigs and make-up, Stefano Pace technical director
  • Conductor: Cornelius Meister
  • Cast includes: Ermonela Jaho, Charles Castronovo, Simona Mihai, Markus Werba, Jongmin Park, Daniel Grice, Jeremy White, Donald Maxwell
  • Producer: Royal Opera
  • Running time: 2hrs 55mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.