Wednesday, 13 September 2017

La Boheme, Royal Opera


The inevitable has come to pass. The Royal Opera have finally got a new production of La boheme, Puccini's evergreen masterwork, after many years & revivals of John Copley's fine staging. Richard Jones is one of the most dependable directors working today, in as much as his work is never without thought and invariably thought-provoking, and his new contemporaneous production is no exception. The great Act 2 showpiece is a riot of fine costuming and colour in a Gallerie Lafayette-a-like, whose staging trucks rush on and then off again for Cafe Momus, a congested but meticulously constructed bistro scene. The waiter-actors excel.

My biggest impressions were of the orchestra, producing deep-dyed tones, especially in the Act 1 woodwind; and the principals' consistency of approach. Here were a group of very young people lost to the id of youth. There was no arch acting here, nothing calculated or knowing but a sextet of kids pinging from one experience to the next. The catastrophic denouement is all the more brutal for it. You'll need a tissue.