Why The Opera ‘La Bohème’ Is Still Relevant In 2016
The first thing you notice about La Bohème is that it’s about life itself. We live, we love, die; not necessarily in that dramatic a fashion or in that simplistic a chronology, but it’s true. The opera itself and La Bohème specifically highlight that in such awesomely powerful fashion that it’s hard to deny while feeling things you didn’t know possible.
The libretto hasn’t changed much since it was penned by Puccini in 1895, allowing the predominantly male cast to dominate much of the stage, led by the outstanding protagonist in the whole tale, Rodolfo (Yosep Kang). Kang has been around for a while, having received many awards and accolades that you can see the reasoning behind as the tremendous tenor strikes some pretty moving notes. The story explores what it means to be a creative, a free-spirited ragamuffin whose life is lived on a whim and relationships form the very backbone of. For a lot of young people these days, that’s them to a tee with all the trials and tribulations that lifestyle often involves. Throw love in – that of the love between Rodolfo and female soprano Mimi (Natalie Aroyan) – and it’s like 2016 all over again.
In-fact, the story is so familiar, that you’d notice a similar storyline in the likes of Rent and Moulin Rouge – they were based off the classic. That in itself just goes to show how versatile the storyline no matter how many ages old is and its relevance today. The only real difference being the vocal work of the beyond talented cast of singers, each individual, each unique, an each with the inherent skill – regardless of your ability to appreciate their range – to make the hair on your body stand on-end. Breathtaking.
The Opera Australia team, though too, have managed to keep the story in the modern day with their flawless adaptation of the stage. Channeling Moulin Rouge with the campness of Rent and a hint of modernity through comedy and outfit cues, the stage comes to life. Slapstick ensues, romance is a strong undercurrent and the constant sexually charged coquettishness of many of the characters and their relationships is just so modern day it’s scary. There are punctuating reminders, by a cast of children on stage, of the flippant immaturity with which some of the characters behave that is laughably too easy to relate to. Nobody’s perfect!
This is our second of many Opera Australia show reviews. See our thoughts on Madama Butterfly here.
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