March 21-30, 1998
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Tickets: TicketMaster, 280-3111
WELL-PERFORMED LA BOHEME BUT LACKING IN LUSTRE AND PASSION
by Violetta Lapinsky
The beauty and freshness of Spring burst upon Vancouver this week, and with it, Giacomo Puccinis 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 Vancouvers 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 Schaldenbrands 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 Rodolfos passion in Che Querida Manina and throughout duets.
Mimi, played by Lyne Fortin, has a lovely, pleasant voice. Yet Mimis 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 childrens chorus. Conductor Leslie Uyeda orchestrated a fine performance with Puccinis 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 Schaldenbrands 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