By chance or divine intervention, I scored tickets for the opening night of WNO's La Boheme. VRN came along, and there was room left for one Kipling Monkey, so Lalik, who just happened to match my ball gown
came along as well. On my part, the desire to see "the world's second [is Carmen still no 1?] most popular opera" live was mostly morbid curiosity- I have said enough on the topic of my feelings for La Big B, but I wanted to check out Trelinski's Production, and also experience the seasoner opener, for once.
We should have known that something was up when the monkey tried to escape!
He did some posing for pictures on the back of the seat in front of us, but just as we were about to sit down, I realized that I did not have him with me. Turns out, Lalik made it for the exit- but we intercepted him- found him hiding under a chair.
He did not come out at all for the rest of the evening. Just as well- there were such acts of animal cruelty in this opera! Some poor parrot got offed for being "annoying" and later on, there was talk of eating it roasted. Where are the vegan nazis of PETA when you need them?
As for the operatic event itself... for starters: music. Well, typical Puccini miasma, maybe just more trite than usual. The orchestra was good, no screw ups, everything sounded smooth as $hit from duck's a$$. I furrowed my brows a lot at many phrases and turns and twists and , if I may paraphrase a line from Amadeus, I would like to say "I did not know such music was possible! When one hears such music... what can one say but PUCCINI!"
Singing: Vittorio Hunko Grigolo was really good- he knows his schtick and target audience. He sounded LOUD on the high notes . He so EMOTED- when he flung himself to the wall, it was with such a tremendous bang... Oh, and that training with the late Big Lucy did not hurt either: excellent diction was his forte. Overall, the men did well, except for the Landlord, which put the big fat O in Twitchy Overacting. Marcello, sung by Hyung Yun, was too cute, moved well, and sang beautifully when one could actually hear him. The coat aria, done by Paolo Pieccholi, was the best bit.
The women: Adriana Damato, Mimi, was nicely rounded, vocally and otherwise, but her falling sickness bouts were executed with a grace of a wounded giraffe. Her table top dance was quite spunky though, and she died well. Nicolle Caballe, sounding like the little mouse that could, looked pretty in Acts III and IV, even though she was limping, but the platinum wig and dominatrix outfit she made her entrance in did her no favors. They both sounded underpowered, often inaudible. The chorus, dressed up mostly as assorted hookers and the children chorus, pimped out as bunnies, sounded fine.
So now to the best parts: the staging . I like!!! Thanks to the long wall imposed over it, the whole stage looked bigger and certainly different than usual. The photo loft where the Gellida action took place, complete with great rainfall effects, the Momus cafe, filled with iconic American figures (Chewbacca! Divine!) and the factory landscape which provided backdrop for the whining lovers' quarrels- all good. Sci-fi digs, even better. And it made sense to me. If La Boheme was Puccini's attempt to show young, aimless "artistic" posers tossing around stock emotions and trying to show off, then Trelinski showed it well enough in vaguely contemporary setting.
And now for the piece de resistance and the best part of the whole thing. The sofa!!!
Seen here, glowing white on stage, next to fluffy angel wings-
-the escapee Kipling monkey is in front-:
That white, imposing, solid, in your face sofa gave the best performance of the night.
It wasn't just the lightning that made it the center of attention in every act. It was SO THERE. And when that dead, cold, clammy hand of Mimi fell limp over it, you could practically feel its pain. No wonder the audience was teared up. Such a presence...
It was a triumph and a great hope for stage furniture everywhere! It can only be compared to the great performance of the Trebbs Salzburg Traviata sofa
(which, I believe, was sold at an auction recently and went into well deserved retirement)...
So, my final rating: on scale of 10, I give four KM monkey points, one for Trelinski, one for the the nice young singers, one for Grigolo and his sheer cheek, plus one BIG point for that incredible sofa. And VRN sez... And Inoarts, not so hot on the smutty staging. The Post-ed Tim Page - who started the "Nobody does not like Sara Lee and everybody loves La Boheme" cheerleading campaign weeks ago- pummels Trelinski pretty good.. with alliteration! gasp! Dark (huh?), drab, denatured etc. Yes,we need more Zeffirelli and nicely parked singers and classy starving people, or modern production that fully showcases important dramatic values of this evergreen drivel. I enjoyed WNO's/Trelinski Mm Butterfly outing, I would like me some deranged Tosca (with Matilla the Goddes - Met's plans), or good Turandot but enough is enough: let's scrounge enough money and see Trelinski's take on something worthy- Don Giovanni at LA Opera, perhaps? I have seen La Boheme live. Now I never have to see it again!