La Bohème at the Met
May 07, 2023
* Notes *
La Bohème (ovation pictured) isn't an opera I go out of my way to see, but since I was already in town for the new Don Giovanni, I attended yesterday's matinée of the Puccini work. The staging is over-the-top, completely delightful, and certainly what people expect from the Met. But my favorite part was hearing Yannick Nézet-Séguin conduct the orchestra, he really brings out the lushness of this score.
Franco Zeffirelli's set is absolutely maximalist, everything is described in elaborate detail. The garret the Bohemians live in has a chimney with smoke coming out of it in the first scene and even has a tiny balcony. The pause between set changes in the first two acts is smooth, and the way the Cafe Momus is revealed is ingenious. Act II is filled to the brim with spectacle: there is a stilt walker, a dancing bear, and Parpignol's toy cart is drawn by a donkey. The waiters at Momus dive on the ground to see Musetta's hurt foot. Act III is also very pretty, an icy February with glittery snow.
Maestro Nézet-Séguin had the orchestra well in hand, everything was very much together. Puccini has never been my favorite composer, but the music was sweeping and very clear. I only wish they did not chose to bring down the curtain before the orchestra stops playing, so that we can savor the beauty and not rush off to applaud.
The youthful cast sang well. Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is a fine Colline, he jokes well with baritone Alexey Lavrov as Schaunard. Their physical humor and chemistry were palpable, and they were particularly great in the Cafe Momus scene and when they dance in Act IV. Likewise baritone Davide Luciano made for a perfectly good Marcello and played off the others.
Soprano Sylvia D’Eramo is a sassy Musetta, her voice is a bit shrill and cold for my tastes, but you could never mistake her for the other soprano, Eleonora Buratto as Mimì, which is always nice. Buratto is much more bird-like, and she's well-cast for her role. She's a perfect match for her Rodolfo, tenor Stephen Costello, whose powerful, warm sound did not overwhelm hers. They blended prettily, and their duets were all lovely. Costello was very moving, especially in the last act, which had me in tears.
* Tattling *
I was not able to get rush tickets for this performance, so I sat in the rear orchestra. In many was it was ideal, there was no one in front of me or directly next to me. Unfortunately there was someone who chose to use his phone to take a video of Act III, at least no one was singing. There also was a cell phone that rang one and a half times during Mimì's "Donde lieta uscì" in this same act.