Scottish Opera La Bohème, Festival Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Puccini, La Bohème
Hye-Youn Lee (Mimi), Luis Gomes (Rodolfo), David Stout (Marcello), Jeanine De Bique (Musetta), Božidar Smiljanić (Schaunard), Damien Pass (Colline), Jonathan Best (Alcindoro/Benoît), Stuart Stratford (conductor), Renaud Doucet (director), André Barbe (designer), Guy Simard (lighting)
Running time

This production of Bohemian life is centred on a flea market in Paris in the 1920s, the Roaring Twenties. It was the centre that came about after the Great War and attracted artists, writers, poets, journalist and many seeking life’s meaning. They were living in cramped garrets with the minimum of comfort. I don’t think I have ever seen so many Bohemians on stage at one time; they were all doing what goes on in a flea market, including the music of the era. Without a pause Scottish Opera’s conductor, Stuart Stratford, soon had his impressively large orchestra gently loose on Puccini's score.

The story begins as Marcello, an artist, and Rodolfo, a writer, try to keep warm. Soon Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, arrive with food. They get the landlord, Benoit, drunk to avoid paying the rent, using the money for a Christmas supper. But Rodolfo stays behind to finish his writing. Lucia from upstairs, who everyone calls Mimi, comes to ask for a light for her candle.

The love story begins and Hye-Youn Lee’s singing, as Mimi, is memorable; Rodolfo and his friends’ entirely acceptable. Memorable was Jeanine de Bique, the fabulous Musetta, with pet (albeit stuffed) cheetah and so many boxes of Christmas shopping. As the stage was changed Djordje Gajic was playing his accordion from one of the boxes. The setting was very believable; perhaps the giant soldiers and a hobby-horse on their way past the Café Momus slightly fanciful, but fun.

For my purist friends the production was way over-the-top, the music, certainly from the front of the stalls, over powering and the opening few minutes with the youth listening and jogging to his iPhone out of kilter with what was to be the 1920s flea market.

Performance: Wednesday 31st May 2017 at 7.15pm. Further performances on Sunday 4th, Tuesday 6th, Thursday 8th and Saturday 10th June 2017