There are not many moments in contemporary society where you get to see people walking around in evening gowns and furs. Though in most situations, this garb would seem oudated, at the opera, it is practically the standard. Opera Idaho brought Boiseans the chance to engage in this moment of fantasy on Valentine’s Day with their performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème.”
Although many people may have never been to an opera, the plot of “La Bohème” influenced many narratives created afterwards. A young, poor artist falls in love with a woman at first sight. She gives up her life to live with him, but poverty makes her fall ill, and she dies in the last act. The Broadway musical, “Rent,” is based on this storyline.
How can this be an opera that would sell out the Morrison Center on Valentine’s Day? The answer is the same for this opera as it is for why people consider “Romeo and Juliet” to be a quintessential romance despite its bitter ending. Love is more beautiful onstage when it has an ending. Rodolfo, the artist, says in the extremely famous duet, “O soave fanciullo,” “In you, I see a dream come to life—A dream I pray always to dream!”
As we all know, dreams are not everlasting, but the opera continues to enchant audiences with its romance despite most viewers knowing how it ends. Opera Idaho brought the familiar story to life with precise originality and outstanding performances by the leads and supporting performers alike.
Celine Byrne stole the show with her effortless portrayal of Mimi, the star-crossed lover of Rodolfo, who must serenade the audience while also convincing them that she is dying of an unknown sickness at the end of the opera.
Kidon Choi, who portrayed Marcello, Rodolfo’s friend and roommate, wooed the crowd with an exciting and often hilarious rendition of a character who is involved in a fluctuating romance with Musetta, played by Jessica E. Jones. Musetta is a libertine character who is first seen onstage seducing a much older man, but soon returns to Marcello.
In this transition, a fun and lively scene takes place among all of the main characters in the town square, and the audience is shown the tumult that is Marcello and Musetta’s relationship. A complicated and multifaceted moment, Opera Idaho’s performance seemed to seamlessly interweave the several different working parts in this scene.
Colin Ramsey, who played the part of Colline, was a pleasant surprise with his consistent and highly controlled bass that, when used, was not outshone by the three other tenors that usually surrounded him. Radames Gil was an enjoyable Schaunard, but often was competing to be heard with the orchestra.
Opera Idaho’s performance of “La Bohème” was not only an exciting moment for opera lovers and first-timers alike to experience a classic, it was also a showcase for the many talents that came together to impressively make the performance the impressive spectacle that it was.