Scottish Opera – Puccini’s La Bohème
Eden Court’s Empire Theatre, Inverness
13th June 2017
Director Renaud Doucet and designer André Barbe open this production of Puccini’s La Boheme with a prologue which brilliantly blends the past and present together by presenting modern day tourists, complete with mobiles, mp3s and headphones browsing through a timeless Parisian flea market inspired by the Marché aux Puces de St Ouen, the largest flea market in Paris.
We are then transported back to the 1920’s Paris, the Années folles (crazy years) and time of the Lost Generation which were a group of creatives such as Ernest Hemmingway, Man Ray and Jean Coctau. Rodolfo (Christopher Turner) a poet and Marcello (David Stout) a painter are struggling to keep warm in their artists garrett, but are joined by friends who bring wood and alcohol and the lads begin to celebrate Christmas eve before they head out to party in the Latin quarter. Rodolfo stays behind to finish writing and falls in love with his ailing neighbour Mimi (Nadine Livingstone) who calls on him as she needs to relight her candle. The story follows the relationship trials of Rodolfo and Mimi and Marcello and the flamboyant Musetta played by Jeanine De Bique, who somewhat stole the show with her amazing voice and homage to Josephine Baker. Appart from a minor moment when Christopher Turner was drowned out by the orchestra, the four main characters gave good performances both in duet and in ensemble.
Puccini’s themes of love, friendship, illness, and struggling to make ends meet are just as relevant today, the beautiful and vibrant art Deco set and intelligent movement between past and contemporary Paris really highlighted that connection. It was indeed a pleasure to discover La Bohème for the first time.
Reviewer : Zoe Gwynne