Yes, it’s a shame I haven’t been to the opera for over 6 months – the reason is simple: I’ve been abroad; I’ve been enjoying my holidays and so forth. In short, I’ve been very selfish (and also had to save some money for the ticket). But now that the Staatstheater Wiesbaden renewed their staging of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème I simply had to go and see it – and I wasn’t disappointed at all.
The tragic love story of the rather poor poet Rodolfo and his very ill neighbour Mimì is an all-time-favourite, not least because of Puccini’s thrilling tunes, beautifully and sensibly played by the theatre’s orchestra. What striked me first was the resemblance of the two protagonists Rodolfo (played by Felipe Rojas Velozo) and Mimì (Tatiana Plotnikova) to Rolándo Villázon and Anna
Netrebko, both of whom starred in Robert Dornhelm’s film La Bohème in 2008. Tenor Rojas Velozo does a marvellous job on
Rodolfo’s sensitive and loving character, although sometimes sounding a bit hoarse on the high notes. His convincing grief over Mimì’s death in the last act is heartbreaking (and in my case, tear-jerking).Plotnikova’s performance is of such a high quality and she is completely aware of her vocal abilities when she changes from pianissimo to an incredible crescendo-fortissimo, not
over-using the vibrato.
In fact, the whole cast is brilliant together. Rodolfo’s jolly all-men-flat is a great team, consisting of the painter Marcello (Thomas de Vries) the musician Schaunard (Brett Carter) and the philosopher Colline (Hye-Soo Sonn). Especially de Vries is stunning as usual and I was astonished by his variability – the last time I saw him he was the overweight Bartolo in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, you wouldn’t believe this was the same singer (maybe here also credit to the make-up and costume artists).
The staging itself was beautiful, all very much to the taste of the Wiesbaden audience: a classy and classic scenery of 19th-century Paris, each act individually adapted to the general mood. Each ‘room’ has loving detail, there is loads to see and discover while listening to dramatic arias such as ‘D’onde lieta uscì’ or lively ones like ‘Quando m’en vò’. Director Wolfgang Quetes did an excellent job on taking on La Bohème in a traditional style – no risks, but a lovely result. I have seldomly felt so set back to the past in such a nostalgic way by a very genuine staging.
For more information, go to www.staatstheater-wiesbaden.de.