Review: La bohème

La bohème. Wow. What more need be said of this powerful and moving production brought to the Grand Theatre by the English Touring Opera? I was lucky enough to have a fantastic seat to watch this extraordinary performance of La bohème last Monday evening. An enigmatic and upbeat story unfolded on Christmas Eve in Paris. La bohème tells the story of the love affair of Mimi and Rodolfo, from their first meeting until the tragic ending of the opera.

This opera took on new levels of modernity at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre. Although it is a period opera there was a fresh approach from the cast of the English Touring Opera’s young stars and the stage design was limited and humble. This created stage space for the narrative and kept the performance fresh and clean.

The opera is set in a poor quarter of Paris which is demonstrated by the minimal stage design. The energetic and flawless performance excited the senses with wonderful notes reaching aural heights and deeper tones reverberating before pitch perfect falsettos lulled you into the classical realm of opera. It was a sensual and exhilarating experience.

Although this version of La bohème is charismatic, there is a simplicity to the direction, choreography and set design; a contradictory ‘no frills’ approach to opera. It is sharp, witty, and egalitarian in its treatment of the characters, with each given a chance to shine. Seldom is one character more important than the rest of the party. The cast’s exuberant roles are fulfilled and accomplished by a sense of diversity until the final scene when the liveliness and joviality come to a passionate end. The curtain falls and you find your senses have been treated to pure auditory beauty. A compassionate and appreciative applause continued as the live orchestra stood to bow after the cast elegantly left the stage.

The young choir from Blackpool school, St Nicholas’ Church of England Primary, must be mentioned as their performance alongside the cast was truly beautiful and a real highlight of the show.

It is not often you will have the opportunity to witness talent like this, especially in your local area. The Grand Theatre has been privileged to host such a magnificent company and I hope they return very soon. For more information about English Touring Opera, please visit the website.

Images by Jill Reidy of Two Old Birds Photography.

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    Local artist, (painting, drawing, collage, and occasional photography, (for reference), of landscape, and abstract, in oil, acrylic, and any other medium which captures my imagination. Contributor, and writer for altBlackpool. Collector, of sometimes anything, but mostly pot, and ceramics.

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