Mark Lamos' 1996 production of La Bohème is quite beautiful. Michael Yeargan's set is nearly perfect, the garrett opens up nicely into the Latin Quarter so that Act I transitions seamlessly into Act II. If only they could have done the same with Acts III and IV, the gorgeous Act III set for the Barrière d'Enfer is too clunky to be disassembled without an intermission. Walter Mahoney's costumes are appropriate, Musetta's costume at Café Momus is particularly grand, black velvet with white fur trim. The choreography was lilting almost until the very end.
As far as the January cast went Vinson Cole (Rodolfo) had a lovely voice, though his acting wasn't passionate. Neither of the female leads, Olga Guryakova (Mimi) and Dina Kuznetsova (Musetta), impressed me, but they weren't bad either. Mariusz Kwiecien was strong as Marcello, his singing and acting were solid. Ayk Martirossian sang Colline's last aria "Vecchia zimarra, senti" admirably, though that aria always strikes me as terribly absurd. Troy Cook made a dashing Schaunard, even if his voice is a little weak.
The star of the summer cast was undoubtedly Anna Netrebko, whose pure icy voice shone as Musetta. "Quando me n'vò" was one of the more thrilling moments in the opera. Elena Prokina's Mimi seemed lackluster and strained in comparison. Frank Lopardo was somewhat weak and belabored as Rodolfo. Scott Hendricks was adequate as Marcello. As for the two who played Schaunard, Johannes Martin Kränzle's voice was stronger than Brad Alexander's, but Troy Cook from January may have been the best actor of the three. Freidemann Röhlig's voice doesn't seem fully formed to me, he lacks the gravity that Ayk Martirossian possesses. But he was better as Colline than Osmin (Die Entführung aus dem Serail).