When a story is told and retold and adapted in so many different ways you know there’s something special about it. This is of course the case with Puccini’s La Bohème, which has been adapted into popular modern musical RENT and used as inspiration for Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge just to name a few. In these instances there is something particularly special about finally being able to see the original work in its truest form.
For La Bohème is truly a beautiful story, full of what could be constant despair and yet it manages to weave threads of hopeful positivity. Its characters are almost destitute and yet they sing and dance, aware of their situation and yet determined to be merry in one another’s company just the same. The reveal in the art they create and value its beauty.
As artists do tend to do, they love passionately and celebrate boisterously. But they are all relatable ordinary humans, and you can easily find yourself empathetic with their situations. Even when you wish to be frustrated with a character’s actions their motives are soon revealed to be more genuine. It’s refreshing and beautiful, and as an opera it’s a lot more “calm” than usual.
The glorious set interchanges between the Bohemians large rundown studio and the lively Café Momus, where the friends all gather together. It is these friends, these characters that truly make the opera. The brotherly affection between Rodolfo (Yosep Kang) and Marcello (Andrew Jones) is perfectly reflected in their wonderful exchanges, their voices soaring and perfectly complimenting each other.
The standout performance is definitely Lorina Gore as Musetta though, who steals the stage in that stunning dress, that fabulous attitude and that striking voice which fills the room with her famous waltz.
The story of La Bohème and its focus on transparently real relationships and friendships, with a lack of any need for overdramatizing or fierce conflicts, is what makes this opera truly unique. It’s an opera for settling comfortably into your chair and enjoying as the performance unfolds before you. Beautiful, emotional, and real.
La Bohème will be playing at the Sydney Opera House until the 23rd March. For more information visithttp://www.opera.org.au/
The reviewer attended the 7:30pm performance on the 6th January.
Photo credit: © Branco Gaica