La Boh�me - REVIEW

Colder than a frosty Parisian morning – ENO’s La Boh�me at the London Coliseum in St Martins Lane, WC2, fails to excite

PUCCINI’S La Boh�me should be a sublime musical and theatrical experience. Combining a tragic love story with two hours of beautiful melody, it’s no surprise that it’s such a popular and frequently performed opera.

And there is plenty to admire about this revival of Jonathan Miller’s 2009 production. Under the baton of Stephen Lord, the orchestra delivers Puccini’s wonderful score with great passion and gusto. Isabella Bywater’s impressive staging transforms a shabby flat into a vibrant caf� scene, a bleak alleyway and back again.

The story tracks the doomed love affair of Rudolfo and Mimi, French bohemians struggling to survive a bitter Paris winter. Gwyn Hughes Jones makes a decent enough Rudolfo but Elizabeth Llewellyn fails to shine as Mimi, lacking both the vocal beauty and the technique for such a demanding role. The production builds little chemistry between the two and as the drama unfolds this reviewer is left feeling colder than a frosty Parisian morning.

Roland Wood impresses as the jealous Marcello but unfortunately Mair�ad Buicke is a rather shrill Musetta, his flirtatious and quarrelsome lover. Their fractious relationship has more substance than Rudolfo’s and Mimi’s but it’s not enough to carry the production and as a consequence La Boh�me fails to hit the high notes.

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