St Andrew and St George’s West
5 & 9 August
Puccini’s La Bohème is obviously a good choice for the festival – the main characters being artists suffering through the cold in cramped squalid conditions may resonate with some fringe performers. It captures scenes from the lives of four struggling friends following their tribulations and celebrations, and on-again off-again love affairs.
Opera Bohemia’s version is absolutely outstanding, the director and cast manage to emphasise the humour and poignant moments in the script equally well. The quality and talent of the casts’ vocal performance is easily equivalent to the National Opera, and sounds particularly stunning in the venue due to the church having a beautiful acoustic quality. Of particular note, Catriona Clark (playing Mimi) gave an absolutely breath-taking soprano performance, but the entire cast have a wonderful range and clarity to their voices. Sometimes companies that focus so much on perfecting the music can slip up on some of the performance elements, but this is certainly not the case with Opera Bohemia, Douglas Nairne (as Marcello) and Christopher Nairne (as Schaunard) gave particularly charismatic performances.
The one flaw with the production is the set, which looked a little untidy and did not really add anything to the production, but with such a stellar production it did not detract from it. This is without a doubt an absolute gem of the fringe festival, and more than worth the very reasonable price of tickets. It is certainly worth seeing if you get the opportunity during it’s far too short run. FIVE STARS
Reviewer : Lydia Mason