Vancouver Opera celebrated St Valentine’s Day with the opening of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
The lush production impresses from the first moment as the curtain rises on Marché aux Puces, Paris’ largest flea market. As tourists explore the stalls, one imagines how the market was in the 1920s. As she and the audience are transported back to the age of The Lost Generation, we are introduced to a group of carefree but impoverished artists. Poet Rodolfo (Ji-Min Park) and Painter Marcello (Phillip Addis) live in a drafty attic room and can barely keep themselves warm let alone fed. Friends Colline and Schaunard help out but life is a struggle for all of them. Rodolfo meets and falls deeply for Mimi (France Bellemare) and Marcello rekindles feelings with Musetta (Sharleen Joynt). Like a classic tragedy we’re treated to the ups and downs of the friends’ lives, centred on Rodolfo’s doomed love of the terminally ill Mimi.
This production of La Bohème was Ji-Min Park 100th turn singing the part of Rodolfo. For a young singer, Ji-Min Park has experience and skills that belie his age, his comfort with the material projected in his powerful performance. In France Bellemare, Park finds an easy chemistry and a beautiful pairing of voices. Playing a star singer within the show, Sharleen Joynt’s Musetta grabs the spotlight as she enters the stage. Everyone in the production fills the theatre with brilliant vocals. The stage is also filled on many occasions during the as performers from Vancouver Opera Chorus join some scenes bringing 50+ players to the stage.
Directed by Renaud Doucet with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra conducted by Judith Yan, from start to finish, La Bohème’s sound, staging, sets, costumes and performers are polished to perfection. Even without knowing Italian (there are English Surtitles) the show is filled with emotion and passion.
Vancouver Opera presents La Bohème continues at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 16, 19, 21 and 24, 2019. For more information, showtimes and tickets visit vancouveropera.ca/boheme