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June 2007

La Bohème at Seattle Opera

Laboheme* Notes *
La Bohème is in the middle of a twelve performance run at Seattle Opera, with two casts. The production is from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the whole thing looks just as one would expect. Pier Luigi Pizzi's sets are perfectly traditional, as are Martin Pakledinaz's costumes. The choreography was sometimes over the top, especially Musetta's flirting in Act II, it was just exaggerated and silly. However, there were times when this worked well, as in Act IV when our bohemians parody a ball. Ashraf Sewailam (Colline) was excellent when he mimicked a ballet dancer, his pliés and tondues were hilarious. The acting in general was good, across the board, and no one looked out of place.

The alternate cast's singing was not great. Gun-Brit Barkmin didn't look bad as Mimi, but her voice was quite harsh and out of tune for most of the first act. It was especially terrible when she sang with Scott Piper (Rodolfo), because it was clear how badly off she was. She did sing well in Act III, perhaps because she did not need to sing as loud, she wasn't having to compete as much with the orchestra. Scott Piper strained a lot in "Che gelida manina!" but was at least his voice was sweet. Margarita De Arellano had her American debut with this production as Musetta. She was somewhat quiet, but her intonation was good and her voice pretty.

* Tattling *
The performance I attended was sold-out and even though the curtain time was early, late seating was done during the pause between the first two acts. There was a lot of chatter, however. On the orchestra level, the couple in BB 7 and 8 spoke aloud, though they did become quieter as the night progressed. A man hummed the first note of "Che gelida manina!" but did stop there. At least he was in tune. Someone's watch alarm went off at the end of that same aria. People also applauded for the beginning of Act II, the set was not impressive but perhaps it was because of the stiltwalker and juggler.

Before Act III, a man in BB 2 took the standing place adjacent to his date's seat, oblivious to the standee whose spot it was. Seattle Opera has assigned standing places, so I had a word with that man when the lights went down and he was very gracious about taking his own seat. I did not see if the lady whose spot it was troubled by what a busybody I am, but I was dressed in a manner that inspired respect, as you, gentle reader, will note below.

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