Tuesday, August 14, 2007

La Boheme

I went down to C'ville to see Ashlawn's La Boheme. It was wonderful. All of the singers were easy to hear and understand and sounded really good, the pit was in tune and prepared and NOT OVERPOWERING and you could hear just about everything even though it was outside, and I enjoyed being able to understand what they were saying even if English did sometimes strain the lyrics a bit.

Anyways, I was impressed by all of the singers and the pit, possibly unduly so, as it is a professional group. Mimi could be hard to hear at times, but everyone else was pretty consistently powerful, and all the leads had really nice-sounding voices.The baritone role was unfortunate, not because the singer had a bad voice (he in fact had a quite good one), but because he had a very small part- he (Schunard) and the bass (Colline) were both absent for all of Act 3, and each only got a very small amount of singing, in the fourth act. (Since neither was part of a couple, they only got minimal "aria" time. This opera is sometimes difficult to characterize, because it's one of those late operas that are...through-composed? The recitative is very melodic and slides into the arias/ensembles. Also, having one less couple really cuts down on necessary plot.) :-)

Of course I did a lot of comparing to Rent, and one thing that struck me was Mimi's role. In Rent she's a dancer at a club, and while she doesn't cheat on Roger, she did have a relationship with Benny that he can throw in her face. In La Boheme, she's a seamstress, and there is no reason for Rodolpho to even think of being jealous. It's an interesting variation on the consumptive mistress character, who is consumptive as retribution for allowing herself to be "consumed". Though she does have a briefly mentioned lover after she and Rudolpho (reluctantly) break up, and it's only after leaving that second lover that she dies, but in that case she would be dying not after being 'redeemed by love from her sinful life' but merely after being 'sinful'. Anyways, I think in this case Mimi's consumption is probably just a reflection of the reality of Bohemian life, but it's interesting to think about.

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