While in most new opera productions I expect a new approach, a creative twist out of the traditional staging and setting, I admit that when it comes to La Bohème I return to my conservative and safe spot: I hope to get the taste of the good old wine that I am familiar with and scared of any surprises and artificial innovation. This is exactly what I got in the opening night in Tel Aviv. Good old La Bohème, where you sit back and enjoy every so-familiar note of Puccini’s divine score, bringing back the best of your memories.
The first credit goes to the orchestra that, under the baton of Francesco Cilluffo, produced clean and very stylish music. The roles of the harp and wind instruments were beautifully performed, together with a solid and disciplined violin and cello sections.
The staging was routine but perfectly executed. I particularly liked Act II, “Outside Cafe Momus”. With such an overcrowded stage and so much happening simultaneously in the Latin Quarter it was a “well-organized mess”. Every person onstage knew exactly where and when to be. Impressive.
As for the singing – it varies. Noa Danon as Mimi has an appealing voice but it took her some time to warm up and the full beauty of her voice was more apparent only later in the evening. Excellent performances were given by Vittorio Vitelli as Marcello and Hila Baggio as Musetta. Alexey Dolgov as Rudolfo also has a beautiful voice but seemed at time trying to get too much out of it. The other two friends, Colline (Fabrizio Beggi) and Schaunard (Ionut Pascu) were very good, with persuasive dramatic skills.
The two choirs were well prepared and added colour and volume to the production. To sum up, a very enjoyable night at the opera, provided that you are not looking for originality or exceptional fireworks.