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La Bohème: skilful production needs relevant edge to sing truly



La Bohème at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin until Nov 26

Iurii Samoilov (Marcello), Sarah Brady (Musetta), Lukas Jakobski (Colline), Gyula Nagy (Schaunard), Merūnas Vitulskis (Rodolfo) and Celine Byrne (Mimì) in INO’s La Bohème. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

People who like their opera straight-up will enjoy this. Irish National Opera present a classic version of Giacomo Puccini’s ever-popular doomed love story that carefully treads the emotional streets of Paris’s Latin Quarter. The set by Nicky Shaw is complex and lavish. The Act 2 street scene is wonderfully populated by a full chorus and children’s choir. Director Orpha Phelan shapes these large crowd scenes with skill and delight. The design does super things with perspective as the colonnade set adds endless depth to the Bord Gáis stage space.

Phelan has chosen to set the story in the interwar years, which opens the way for a cabaret-style Musetta, cheekily sung by soprano Sarah Brady. Celine Byrne is a wonderful Mimi, the dying scene so carefully crafted vocally that between her and Puccini’s rising death-crescendo, you cannot fail to be moved. The best thing about the production is the energy of the four bohemian lads: baritones Iurii Samoilov as the painter Marcello, and Gyula Nagy as the musician Schaunard; bass Lukas Jakobski as the philosopher Colline; and the earnest tenor Merūnas Vitulskis as the complex poet Rodolfo. Choreographer Muirne Bloomer makes a great contribution to the anarchic energy of these flighty men. Conductor Sergio Alapont brings a terrific boisterous energy to these comic elements.

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