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Schaunard, the musician, with whom it is said both Puccini and Leoncavallo felt an association, was ably portrayed by Ilya Pavlov. Vasia Krastov was a robust Parpignol and Mikhail Kolelishvili sang the part of the book loving philosopher, Colline, with deep burnished tones. His farewell to the overcoat he was about to pawn in order to get medical help for Mimi was heart rending.

Mimi (Elena Razgylyaeva) and Rodolfo (Gabriel Gonzalez) in the death scene at the end of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2006 Robin Grant
Mimi (Elena Razgylyaeva) and Rodolfo (Gabriel Gonzalez) in the death scene at the end of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2006 Robin Grant

When Giorgio Lalov stages an opera, it is true theater. In this production, each singer became a memorable character who projected his story across the footlights. Valentin Topencharov's atmospheric sets and attractive period costumes helped to emphasize the plot. Krassimir Topolov conducted the orchestra with infectious verve as he brought out the many colors and details of Puccini's complex orchestration.

Mimi (Elena Razgylyaeva) and Rodolfo (Gabriel Gonzalez) at the end of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2006 Robin Grant
Mimi (Elena Razgylyaeva) and Rodolfo (Gabriel Gonzalez) at the end of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2006 Robin Grant

This was a gala evening at the Claremont Opera House that brought to mind delightful thoughts of the era in which this opera was written. At the intermission, ladies in evening gowns and gentlemen in dark suits graced the aisles and drifted down the staircase. It was a joy to hear this opera sung in a setting so much like the houses of Europe for which it was originally intended.

Copyright © 12 November 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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