Vancouver Opera



March 21-30, 1998

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Tickets:  TicketMaster, 280-3111


by Violetta Lapinsky

The beauty and freshness of Spring burst upon Vancouver this week, and with it, Giacomo Puccini’s bittersweet and passionate Opera ‘La Boheme’ . Bursting forth like new buds, young and delicate love flourishes, wilts and resurrects itself gallantly upon the stage at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre .

‘La Boheme’ presents itself lightly, pleasing to the eye and the ear. Warm and comedic. Directed by Michael Cavanagh and assistant directed by Kate Hutchinson, this production of ‘La Boheme’ lends itself to laughter and sorrow.

In the opening act, the surprise was Marcello ( Christopher Schaldenbrand’s VO debut ). His well sustained and resonating voice carried through with good presentation. This was strengthened by his natural acting and apparent delight with his character.

Rodolfo ( Carl Tanner ) possesses a very beautiful, lyric voice, projecting very pleasant qualities. At times, however, he was overpowered by the orchestra. And one would expect much more of Rodolfo’s passion in ‘ Che Querida Manina ’ and throughout duets.

Mimi, played by Lyne Fortin, has a lovely, pleasant voice. Yet Mimi’s direction seemed to focus more on her profile, which did not encourage proper carriage of voice.

Musetta was beautifully performed by Sally Diblee. Her vibrancy, projection and powerful voice sailed over the orchestra. Combined with her strong development of character and desire for Marcello, these two lovers created a fiery passion on stage.

Colline, played by John Relyea, was a well-placed, well-projected and well-supported baritone with wonderful mellow colour. Again, the strong acting added to the role. And Michael Donovan playing Schaunard was humourous and animated. Yet his terrific baritone was lost behind the orchestra as well.

A well-done job by the chorus director, Carol Isaac, as the chorus came through with flying colours, including the children’s chorus. Conductor Leslie Uyeda orchestrated a fine performance with Puccini’s lovely score. The creative and interesting stage sets by Robert Brill, wonderfully lit by lighting designer Paul Mathiesen added to the charm of the opera.

The strong and delightful voices of Marcello and Musetta caried the show. Christopher Schaldenbrand’s very successful VO debut was certainly appreciated by the audience and I predict a great operatic future for this young man.

This was a nice and well-performed ‘ La Boheme ‘, yet it lacked lustre and passion. The beautiful voices were overpowered by the orchestra too often, or the orchestra overpowered certain singers. After the end of the performance, I was left unfulfilled with expectations of an emotionally powerful ‘ La Boheme’.


Copyright 1998 Violetta Lapinski