LA BOHEME at Glyndebourne is breath taking, emotional and beautiful.
I was so swept away by this wonderful performance that there is simply no other way to start this review than with words of utter praise.
It leaves your spine tingling with the raw emotion of the first steps of love and by the end of the first half of this amazing opera I was welling up with tears.
Puccini’s La Boheme opened this year’s Glyndebourne on Tour season and what an opening it was.
The opera starts with four friends living in poverty in a flat in Paris at Christmas time.
There is a real bohemian setting with the apartment occupied by young poets, philosophers and musicians - this acts as the backdrop to Rodolfo (played by Atalla Ayan) and Mimi’s (played by Keri Alkema) love story.
Mimi knocks on Rodolfo’s door looking for a candle and when he opens the door it is love at first sight.
The first half of the opera is uplifting and funny. You really feel like you are experiencing the first throes of love.
Just before the curtain goes down there is a beautiful scene where Mimi and Rodolfo are on the balcony – then as they disappear off stage, the orchestra keep playing and the stars which had been hanging in the ‘sky’ above them, are slowly pulled out of sight.
It creates an emotional and beautiful scene which almost had me in tears.
The second half of the opera sees their relationship take a turn for the worst. Mimi is unwell and Rodolfo blames himself for the cold apartment they live in and lack of food, which he believes is making her worse. He tells her to find someone wealthy to help her.
But as Mimi’s health deteriorates further there is only one person she wants to be with and she tragically dies laying next to a broken hearted Rodolfo in his apartment.
Running along the main plot is the story of Marcello (played by Vincenzo Taormina) and Musetta (played by Natasha Jouhl). Their love story is full of passion and temptation and acts as a wonderful contrast to the relationship of Mimi and Rodolfo.
I could not fault the opera at all.
It is the perfect introduction for those just venturing into opera for the first time and I guarantee it will have you hooked.
La Boheme runs at Glyndebourne until October 27. The tour then continues on to Woking.
For more information contact the Glyndebourne box office on 01273 813813.