Saturday, November 22, 2008
La Vie Boheme
Because the production had been praised to the skies in the local media, I went to the San Francisco Opera's latest version of "La Boheme" on Wednesday the 19th where I watched the first two acts from the top balcony's standing room.
Musically, you couldn't ask for a much better ensemble, starting with new music director Nicola Luisotti's impassioned conducting and ending with Piotr Beczala, the Polish tenor who was Tamino last year in "The Magic Flute," singing the part of Rodolfo with such a combination of power and sweet purity it takes your breath away.
Still, what this production brought home to me was how much I despise "La Boheme" as a theatrical work, and how I've always disliked it no matter who was singing. The starving artists are all phony characters, and I've never given a damn whether any of them lived or died.
There, I've said it. I feel the same way about "Rent," and am thankful for the rude parody of the entire genre of dying-for-their-sexual-sins-while-singing in the porno puppet film, "Team America: World Police."
Should you be susceptible to the charms of "La Boheme," the current production at the San Francisco Opera would not be a bad place to start, though the staging of the Act Two Cafe Momus scene is frankly incomprehensible and doesn't make a bit of sense. You could also sit at the back of the top balcony with the Puccini score in your lap like the Opera Tattler (click here) and just enjoy the music on its own terms.