|Date||13th July 2018|
|Venue||The Rondo Theatre, Bath|
|Type of Production||Opera|
|Musical Director||Peter Blackwood|
Author: Dee Way
Thank you for your kind invitation to report on your touring production of ‘La Bohème’. In these days of opera singers having to act well, look the part they are playing, and sing well, this group had put together an extremely effective performance. The scenery was minimal but effective, the singing by the lead characters was excellent and the affecting production moved me to tears.
The direction was thoughtful and well planned, as required for such a small stage area. The movements around the stage area were interesting, engaging and realistic. The handling of props looked natural and well-rehearsed, scene changes were minimal. It was so good to be able to see the characters’ faces during their singing, as so much is communicated through the eyes. It was also good to see realistic touches such as tipping the waiter in the excellent cafe scene.
The set was simple, with an artist’s easel and canvas onstage, two screens, a table with two folding chairs and a stove centre stage. There were glasses on a shelf and a section of window frame that worked most effectively as the garret window over Paris. The simplicity made for easy changes to the set as the action progressed, with the use of a chaise longue being installed for the climax of the piece.
Having the piano onstage gave very clear communication between the singers and the Musical Director. The support given to the singers was excellent throughout, even in the very fast passages. Costumes were fitting to the production being just after the Second World War, a time of great social and political turbulence. In fact, this setting gave a more modern feel to the events that unfolded during the performance, making the opera seem more relevant to today’s world.
However, it was the singers’ portrayals of their characters that made this an outstanding production. All the singers played their roles very well indeed, with great character and empathy, and with excellent vocal ability. Altogether this was a most enjoyable and touching performance of this opera. It was nice to be in such a small theatre for this production as one could appreciate all the more the energy, acting and vocal skills of the performers. Congratulations to all involved!