La Boheme BYO Peacock Theatre 04 September



Illustrates the production concept--I was too demoralised to take a photo


Why was I so bored and irritated by this? I hate Puccini of course, but La Boheme isn’t so bad in principle and according to my battered red notebook I thoroughly enjoyed the BYO production in 1998.  We were sitting at the very front, in case certain members of our party wished to faint, and that will have done no favours to the balance.  However, even from short range, it was often difficult to hear Rodolfo (John Pierce) and Mimi (Susana Gaspar).  The same went, though less seriously, for the Musetta of Anna Patalong.

Now that I think about it, the production was rather strange.  Rodolfo and Mimi searched for her key in what seemed to be full daylight, and various pieces of furniture made their way to the ceiling–most notably Mimi’s deathbed, but also the table upon which Musetta sat as she delivered her Waltz Song–she looked distinctly nervous as she rose into the air, and who can blame her?  I found it difficult to work out which was the inside and which was the outside at the beginning of Act 3, probably because there was snow falling both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.

I liked the Marcello of Koji Terada–he had certainly more than mastered the vocal demands of his part and slouched around like a true Parisian artist.  Colline  (Benjamin Cahn)   and Schaunard (Matthew Sprange) were affectingly–and effectively–youthful.

Why then was I so bored and irritated by this?  I think it’s because this world of penniless would-be artists and thinkers was for a time my milieu as a young man, and this production resolutely refused to capture any particle of it.

Later: the things rising to the ceiling still worry me.  Perhaps we should have a comment from Don Paterson:

I saw that time is love, and time requires
of everything its full expenditure
that love might be conserved; and then I saw
that love is not what we mean by the word.
So the whole world blooms continually
within its true and hidden element,
as sea, a beautiful and lucid sea
through which it pilots, rising without end.

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