the show finally continues at the Opera with a four-star performance
La Bohème by Puccini
Opera Australia, Joan Sutherland Theater, Sydney Opera House, January 4.
“Brava! And “Well done!” suffocated by masks; the edgy adrenaline rush of live performances after a shredded rehearsal schedule by Omicron; imperturbable on stage cold blood while the technical systems of the Opera House emitted deafening white noise when they awoke from pandemic hibernation; and, finally, the unadulterated pleasure at the reminder that, after a canceled New Years Eve performance, the show had indeed continued.
This is what love looks and feels like in the days of COVID. Italian soprano Valeria Sepe well deserved those muffled cries for her finely sculpted but dramatically expressive performance of consumer Mimi. She was light and delicate as she donned the flirtatious fantasy in her first scene and frayed in her last, cut sets with a revealing edge in the seething chaos of Cafe Momus, and reached for the rich warmth and power in the climax of acts one. and three.
Kang Wang’s voice as Rodolfo had color and a light freshness in laid-back moments and winks and, in terms of dramatic force, really stood out in the mighty duet with Sepe in the act three.
As Musetta, the it-girl with a heart of gold and matching hair, Julie Lea Goodwin was cheerful in act two, though she found the sounds more rounded in the pathetic moments of act four. . Like the painter Marcello, Haotian Qi matched Wang’s lightness in acts one and four tinged with a certain depth and nobility. He and Goodwin found a symbiotic couple of painful passion and meticulous flair after his set-piece (complete with radio mic and tracking spot) When you tell me.
Like the shaggy philosopher Hill, Richard Anderson sang The mantle song in act four with eloquent clarity and resonance. Tall and cheerful, Shane Lowrencev as musician Shaunard cultivates theatrical flippancy with carefree irreverence, his voice fitting into the sets as a character role. The same goes for Andrew Moran, who has been ridiculed as owner Benoit and Musetta’s beau Alcindoro.
Conductor Lorenzo Passerini started out with quick, slightly energized tempos and, in the havoc caused by the COVID-canceled rehearsals, presided over a few skillful moments of timing (and a slight misalignment or two).
The Opera Australia choir and children’s choir bubbled with vitality through the anarchy of act two. After the static electricity explosion, the Opera Australia Orchestra felt a little different to me, like when the ears jump on a plane, although maybe that’s because I focused on it more intensely. Regardless, the solos retained the clarity of tone and transparency of colors.