The Metropolitan Opera’s Franco Zeffirelli interpretation of La Boheme, the Puccini masterpiece, has run at the Met since 1981 and has been a staple at the Met since 1900.
The story is timeless; purposely set in France’s post revolution years, the 1830’s, its bohemian culture and class divisions are wonderfully portrayed.
Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza leads the orchestra with gusto as the cast hits their marks throughout the production. The moving music allowed for both laughter and tears.
The cast changes throughout the season due to the many shows and often allows new talent on the stage. This showing had two singers new to the Met, soprano Myrto Papatanasiu in the role of Musetta and baritone Alessio Arduini playing Schanuard. They both gave wonderful performances. Ms. Myrto as Musetta aptly conveys the characters materialism and is equally convincing as Musetta changes her ways, rejoining her friends and former lover.
In the role of Rudolfo, tenor Charles Castronovo was clearly the audience’s favorite. Portraying his characters charming awkwardness upon meeting Mimi, his jocular behavior amongst friends and the depths of his despair he truly wowed the audience.
Soprano Sonya Yoncheva’s Mimi was beautifully played particularly in the long playing duet with Rudolfo in the third act. David Bizic’s portrayal of Marcello and Matthew Rose’s Colline, both bassists, renditions were no less heartfelt as two of Rudolf’s three roommates living in the small garret.
What makes the Met’s La Boheme superior to showings in other Opera Houses is Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular set design that has dated back 33 years. Watching Rodoflo burn his latest manuscript to keep himself and Marcello warm in their small garret in the Latin Quarter of Paris – the audience’s collective sigh at the revealing of the second act’s set – to the chill one can feel watching the snow come down in the third act.
Unless the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb wants to court another protest I hope to be watching Franco Zeffirelli’s production for the rest of my life. I was pleased to have remembered my handkerchief.