Saturday, April 5, 2008

"La Boheme Makes Me Wish I Had Consumption"

I would like to start this review by profusely thanking Peter Gelb for all that he has done. I've done this before and I'll do it again. Peter Gelb is a genius. His HD broadcasts bring the Met all over the world to all sorts of people that would never think to enter an opera house. I bow down to you, Mr. Gelb.

Now that I'm done groveling let me tell you about the opera.

It was perfection. After such an ending I can hardly give anyone a bad review. I was in tears a full twenty minutes before Mimi died and during "Donda lieta usci." Angela Gheorghiu, who you know is not by any means my favorite soprano, was so wonderful. Whenever I see a singer I don't particularly care for they always win me over! I'm a sucker for wonderful performers. Ms. Gheorghiu's voice is so lovely and what an actress! She might take a long time to get to the stage door because she has to pick the scenery from her teeth first. One thing that irked me was that when she sings she moves around so much. She mouth goes all over and, at least from what I saw, her body is constantly moving. Ramon Vargas was a very effecting Rodolfo. I saw him first last season in Onegin and he was better in this I think. He has more to do here and more to sing. At first he was a either a little tentative or not fully warmed up. By the end of "Che Gelida Manina" he was beautiful. His high notes were fabulous. During the third and fourth act he was so heartbreaking, you really felt for Rodolfo.

Out of what opera adoring universe did Ludovic Tezier spring from? I had never heard of him before today, but my gosh what a voice! The first time he opened his mouth I had to gasp and thought "Who is that??" Some people were not so thrilled by him, but I was! He was rather handsome, but even with my eyes closed (which they never were, by the way) I could hear that his voice was rich and beautiful. Oren Gradus and Quinn Kelsey were agile (to say the least) and hysterically funny as Colline and Schaunard. The "Vecchia Zimarra" by Mr. Gradus was beautiful and sentimental. Schaunard is usually a character who is forgotten or just floats into the background. Not this Schaunard, he was front and center with his humor and charm. Ainhoa Arteta, who I saw in this role last season, was funny, flirty, and had a marvelous voice. Her "Quando M'en Vo" definitely stood out, and her acting quite overshadowed Ms. Gheorghiu in the second act. It was great because at the end she really cried when Mimi died. After the curtain came down we (that is, the people in the movie theaters) saw her continually wipe her eyes and her cheeks. Fantastic! Paul Plishka, of course, was a comic force for this opera. His Benoit/Alcindoro combination were so funny. It's so great to still have him around and just hanging around the house. Nicola Luisotti conducted fabulously. I've heard people complaining that he took it too slow. It's interesting, because in the theaters no one complained about it, but everyone who heard it on the radio said it was slow! Interesting...
As usual, there's nothing to be said about the chorus and orchestra that hasn't been said already. Remarkable. Truly spectacular.
Renee Fleming hosted today and what a cute job she did! We saw the obvious question cards for the interviews, which caused a few chuckles, but that's not a huge problem. She interviewed the head of the Children's Chorus and the children themselves, Angela and Ramon, Joe Clark (now a regular for interviews), and Nicola Luisotti. There was a tribute to Franco Zefferelli (who I didn't mention before because I don't need to say anything about the production) that had clips from all of his productions from the Met including Tosca, Otello, Cavalleria/Pagliacci, Turandot, and others. Another montage, if you will, featured a clip or two from every HD broadcast both last season and this season. There was a trailer for the upcoming Fille broadcast with footage from the Covent Garden production.

The backstage camera angles were so incredible. During the pause between Act I and Act II you saw the Parisian rooftops slide off the stage and the Latin Quarter (with the whole chorus already on board) moved slowly and quietly from stage right. The whole set moved onto the stage. It was insane. I couldn't get enough of it.
Renee also mentioned that next season there will be ten HD broadcasts to theaters everywhere. Guess who's excited!!!! =)

Happy Listening!! =)


Tom k said...

Nice summary, I was at the the Met for the performance. Absolutely agree with others that the tempo was slow, most noticeably in the Act I showcase arias. I would think most opera fans would agree. I found myself wondering whether the performers negotiated the tempo with the conductor under the pressure of the high visibility of this performance. That said, still a great performance.

CaroNome said...

Great, now I'm embarassed that I didn't notice. =) I think I just got caught up in the excitement of not only seeing a live opera, but seeing it being streamed live from the Met and I didn't notice. Plus, I love "Boheme" and the Met so much that I wouldn't mind it being slow. I'd stay there all day if the tempo was slow enough!!! =)
I also have a habit of missing at least one thing that everyone else noticed. Got to get that fixed...

Thanks for the comment, though, I'm happy to hear from someone who was in the house!