La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera
The popular Zeffirelli production of La Bohème is currently running at the Met. This incarnation stars Anna Netrebko as Mimi, Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo and Ruth Ann Swenson as Musetta.
Netrebko and Beczala's performances were sublime yet subtle, filled with nuances, much like the score of La Bohème itself. Puccini's melodic structure is never grandiose. The closest it comes is during Musetta's waltz, which is later brought back as a nostalgic tenor/baritone duet. Puccini re-orchestrates signature pieces slightly throughout the opera, which changes their meanings and is a catalyst for a deeper reflection of the main themes.
While his orchestration is nuanced, the emotionalism in La Bohème is as pure and direct as can be. The most moving aspect of the opera, and perhaps what has contributed to its immense popularity, is its simplicity. The lovers fall in love very deeply and very quickly in the first act; "Do you love me?" "I love you."
The simplicity of the Bohemian lifestyle is personified by Mimi, whose simple moniker is woven throughout the opera, most memorably at the very end.
Netrebko's lush and elegant voice and the chemistry between the performers in this production were exhilarating. The story has been told in countless variations for over a hundred years, but I felt as if I were hearing it for the very first time.
- Stephanie Krammer