La Boheme, starring Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja, performed by Lyric Opera at the Civic Opera House, is undoubtedly one of the most recognized operas. Giacomo Puccini’s music score adds to the sense of a high drama that an avid opera goer is expecting and familiar with.
The opera is set in mid-XIX century around a community of artists living in Paris’ Latin Quarter, focusing on romantic relationship between poet Rodolfo (Calleja) and Mimi (Netrebko). Impoverished poet Rodolfo falls for a beautiful seamstress Mimi. Rodolfo and Mimi’s love blossoms, but then, just as suspected, runs into conflict. It is only to be discovered at the end of the opera, that they cannot live apart from each other. Alas, their union is still short-lived, as Mimi tragically passes away stricken by tuberculosis… The wide range of passions and magnetic characters that run high, both emotionally and musically, makes the sentimental plot unforgettable.
Celebrated Russian soprano Anna Netrebko’s appearance in La Boheme marks her Chicago Lyric Opera debut. Her charming appearance and a hint of vulnerability makes it for a quite believable performance. She easily gathers all the attention, captivating the audience with her rich and silky-smooth voice. It seems, the sincerity in her voice and in her take on the role had a special impact on the audience. Singing the role of Rodolfo, tenor Joseph Calleja puts on an admirable performance with his mega-star partner Netrebko. Calleja plays his part convincingly, helping the audience engage in his passionate love for Netrebko’s character, and thus his Rodolfo and Netrebko’s Mimi appear to have made a smooth fit.
While Netrebko and Calleja have well deserved their standing ovations, we would be remiss not to mention that the Lyric did a formidable job assembling quite a vivid cast of bohemians to complement the lead roles.
The orchestra conducted by Emmanuel Villaume augmented the greatness of this opera and its stars by a well-paced and sensitive flow of Puccini music. Overall, a remarkable performance by the cast and orchestra allowing the audience to experience all that opera is and should be. As remarked by Netrebko once, ”Puccini’s magic never fails to cast its entrancing spell.” Indeed, that was the prevailing sentiment in the hall by those who experienced La Boheme as performed by the Lyric Opera stars.
For more information on future performances at Lyric Opera, please visit lyricopera.org.
Leonard Mogul & Sergei Telis
Photo: Courtesy of Lyric Opera