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1989, Scottish Opera Tour, La Bohème

La Bohème

Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Librettists: Giacosa and Illica, after Henri Murger’s novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème
Venue and Dates: Scottish Opera Tour, 1989
Theatre Royal, Glasgow 17, 21, 28 January, 9, 15 February 1989
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen 22, 25 February 1989
The Playhouse, Edinburgh 1, 3 March 1989
Theatre Royal, Newcastle 5, 7 April 1989
Apollo Theatre, Oxford Wed 8 March 1989

Conductor: John Pryce-Jones
Director: Elijah Moshinsky
Revival Director: Kate Brown
Performers:
Rodolfo : Patrick Power
Mimi : Angelique Burzynski
Marcello : Simon Keenlyside
Colline : Jonathan Best
Schaunard : Geoffrey Dolton
Benoit : Roger Bryson   (3 March : Graeme Danby)
Alcindoro : Roger Bryson   (3 March : David Morrison)
Parpignol : Grant Richards
Musetta : Alison Hagley
Custom House Sergeant : John Beazley
Customs Official : David Morrison (3 March : Paul Anwyl)
Notes: If you have any more information about these performances, please let us know by emailing webmaster@simonkeenlyside.info

Soundbites

Michael Tumelty, Glasgow Herald 18 January 1989

It is only eight months since Elijah Moshinsky’s captivating production of Puccini’s La Boheme first opened in Glasgow. It has not receded in the memory.

I see no reason to suspect, after watching Kata Brown’s revival which opened last night (sung in Italian), that I shall change my original impression that this sensitive, poignant staging will endure as something of a classic.

The production design, by Michael Yeargan, has a touch of genius. That garret – so cluttered and vibrant with spirit at the opening; so empty, and kissed simultaneously by the glint of sunlight and the pallor of death at the end. The bristling, bustling Latin Quarter with its cleverly projected interiors; the cold, dank exteriors of the tollgate scene. The sets are endlessly atmospheric, and their presentation as through a camera lens is a tour de force.

That atmosphere is totally dependent on Robert Bryan’s lighting, which alone deserves an essay, so subtle and evocative are its myriad, magical shades.

All of this is meticulously focused in on the music, seamlessly homogeneous. All that is needed is the perfect cast and musical accompaniment. Perfect? Well, that’s reaching into the imagination, perhaps.

But not too far. The Bohemian quartet is very well cast. Simon Keenlyside’s Marcello, Jonathan Best’s Colline, Geoffrey Dolton’s Schaunard and Patrick Power’s Rodolfo have a particular strength. They are individually characterised and form a first rate ensemble. Easy to say, but often the personalities get lost in the group effort. Not here.

Power’s Rodolfo has a wonderful dramatic focus, a firm tone, and an emotional ardour that makes the music beam with intensity (and the eyes brim).

Angelique Burzynski’s Mimi, on the opening night, was less satisfactory. There were problems (rhythm especially, but also pitch) that got in the way of musical expression. And her characterisation seemed rather cool and vague. Alison Hagley’s Musetta, on the other hand, was appropriately frothy and volatile.

Conductor John Pryce-Jones drew excellent playing from the orchestra, with some translucent, acrated textures, though the opening of Act Two (from everybody) was a bit ramshackle.

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