La Bohème Review – Christmas Comes Early at the Royal Opera House | Opera
VSChristmas has somehow come early at the Royal Opera, where there’s something of a Nutcracker in Richard Jones’ production of Puccini’s tearful: snowfall, a festive chorus dressed as if for a Technicolor Dickens adaptation, and the prospect of Stewart Laing sets being rolled back and forth for weeks to house several star casts.
Headlining this revival, directed by Danielle Urbas, and leading the opening night cast, is Juan Diego Flórez. It’s not often you see and hear a singer with a quarter century of stage experience go back to Rodolfo, Puccini’s least mature man, but after two decades as the international king of 19 Floridaetenor roles of the last century, Flórez is moving towards a heavier repertoire. His experience says it all: if you really want to hear the warmth and warmth of a classic Puccini tenor, you can wait for other singers later in the race, but you miss a winning performance from Flórez, elegant phrasing, a rock-solid technique and boyish charm.
Niese’s Danielle is a megawatt Musetta, embodying Jones’ slightly ruthless idea of the character – sending her wistful waltz to make her look drunk and desperate is perhaps the production’s only real misstep, though we never doubt that ‘she’s going to get what she wants. She goes well with the scene-stealer Marcello from Andrei Zhilikhovsky, making an impressive debut at the Royal Opera. Is it wrong to wonder if the most heartfelt love duet in this opera could well be that of Rodolfo and his bromance companion? This is sometimes the case here, because alongside these three Ailyn PerezMimì de seems a bit cool at first, even if she gains heat as the evening progresses and fills the theater with her silvery soprano, almost steely in the big moments. Ross Ramgobin and Michael Mofidian complete the energetic quartet of Bohemians.
With Kevin John Edusei the conducting does not lack detail and the orchestra often sounds sumptuous, but some of the flow of mercury is missing: you hear the cogs of the music turning, just as you can see the stagehands moving the sets.