Review: La Bohème at the Bord Gáis - 'Bring tissues for this emotional production'
The Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre of Moscow gives Puccini’s great tragic love story a super outing with major talent in the leads.
Irish star Celine Byrne is sweetly powerful as Mimi. The effect of her singing the role as a dead person watching her life, whilst the role is occasionally mimed by an actress, has terrific theatrical power.
Byrne is matched by tenor Aleksey Tatarintsev’s Rodolfo, both in acting and singing, who commands the stage and the air. Ekaterina Mironycheva as Musetta easily seduces both her former lover and the audience with her showgirly turn in the café scene. Only baritone Andrey Breus feels a little outclassed as the painter Marcello.
A super design job is done by Hartmut Schörghofer for director Georgy Isaakyan. A huge circle motif is put to brilliant use: as a clock; a view up the inside of the Eiffel Tower; a spiral staircase and a sky view. There is much play with perspective, and vertical surfaces are disconcertingly treated as horizontal.
Early scenes have a 1940s feel, but the art gallery of the final act has a Saatchi eighties aesthetic, with the pseudo elements cranked up, and the orchestra cued by a popping champagne cork.
See-through plastic sculptures litter the former bohemian space; a mock swordfight is conducted with dinner forks. Vitally Evanov as the philosopher Colline establishes the necessary tragic tone with his superb overcoat aria as he pushes the emotional range of his bass voice.
The minimalist emptiness of the gallery setting provides a highly effective canvas for the final tragic musical build-up. Bring hankies. Byrne sings on Friday and Sunday.