SUSAN HAMPTON visits Boston
for Puccini's 'La bohème'
Friday night [30 October 2009] was dreary and cold in Boston but when Teatro Lirico d'Europa brought its production of Giacomo Puccini's La bohème to Emmerson College's Cutler Majestic Theatre, the brilliance of the singing warmed the heart of every opera goer. The New England autumn weather merely helped the near capacity audience commiserate with the Bohemians in their unheated garret.
Rodolfo (Orlin Goranov) offers Mimi (Elena Razgylaeva) a glass of wine in Act I of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
Artistic Director Giorgio Lalov's traditional staging carefully followed the dictates of the score and that was a treat to be savoured these days. Tenor Orlin Goranov as Rodolfo, the poet, and baritone Marian Jovanovski as Marcello, the painter, burned the former's play in a realistic stove.
Rodolfo (Orlin Goranov) and Mimi (Elena Razgylaeva) in Act I of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
When their roommates Colline and Schaunard, sung by Plamen Dimitrov and Konstantine Videv, joined them, they formed an exuberant group with robust voices and tons of youthful energy.
Snejana Dramcheva as Musetta shows a bit of leg in Act II of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
Although Goranov is Bulgarian, he has an Italianate sound coupled with a smooth legato that could melt the heart of any soprano. The fact that he is tall and slim also helps make him a believable young lover. Petite soprano Elena Razgylaeva was a delightful Mimi who sang sweetly of her lonely life embroidering flowers. She enchanted not only Rodolfo but the entire audience.
Rodolfo (Orlin Goranov) takes the hand of Mimi (Elena Razgylaeva) as Musetta (Snejana Dramcheva) calls after Marcello. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
In Act II we met the temperamental Musetta, compellingly sung by soprano and costume designer, Snejana Dramcheva, who looked every inch the nineteeth century fashion plate. The sets and most of the costumes were designed by Giorgio Lalov, but Musetta's gowns were the soprano's own designs. This multi-talented artist played her character as a soft-hearted ingenue with an anger problem and sang her aria with lustrous tones as she rekindled her love affair with Marcello.
Elena Razgylaeva as Mimi and Marian Jovanovski as Marcello in Act III of 'La bohème'. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
It's rare to find such luxurious casting as Jovanovski's Marcello and Dimitrov's Schaunard. They brought in the warmth of the sun with their singing. Completing the male quartet was the dark bass voice of Konstantine Videv. He was a little older and more sedate than the others, and that provided a good contrast. Veteran singing actor Hristo Sarafov played the cameo roles of Benoit, the alcoholic landlord and Alcindoro the 'sugar daddy' with deft comic touches and a resonant baritone sound.
Rodolfo (Orlin Goranov), Marcello (Marian Jovanovski) and Musetta (Snejana Dramcheva) try to assist the dying Mimi (Elena Razgylaeva). Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
The story was portrayed with tremendous emotional power and at the moment Mimi died, you could feel the impact of the tragedy throughout the house. As a result, the audience began to clap and call out 'bravo' as the curtain started to descend, and the applause went on for more than five minutes.
The death of Mimi (Elena Razgylaeva), with Orlin Goranov as Rodolfo. Photo © 2009 Robin Grant
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to see more than one cast sing this production. Melliangee Perez, who sang Mimi on Saturday [31 October 2009], was somewhat softer in her approach and she showed more signs of her fatal illness from the start. She has a strong voice, however, and great command over its technique. She could bring her pianissimo down to a fine filament of golden sound but she could also raise the decibel level to a magnificent forte when that was called for. She is definitely a young singer to watch.
Copyright © 8 November 2009
Los Angeles, USA