For my second look at La Bohème at the COC I caught the first night of what is, effectively, the third cast. This is actually the first cast but with Eric Margiore replacing Dmitri Pittas as the third Rodolfo of the run. So, how did it compare to Wednesday night’s effort?
There were pluses and minuses but my overall impression is that this cast, while perfectly serviceable, lacks some of the spark of the other crew. The pluses are mostly to do with the ladies. I really liked Grazia Doronzio’s somewhat richer toned Mimi and Joyce El-Khoury’s sexy and flirtatious Musetta. This role seems to sit better for her voice and offer more scope to her acting skills than Mimi.
The boys were mostly fine. Phillip Addis played Schaunard rather than Marcello, which was strongly sung and well acted by Joshua Hopkins, and Christian van Horn came in for Tom Corbeil as Colline. There were other minor changes. The difference between the two ensembles wasn’t huge though I rather missed the sheer dorkiness of Cam McPhail in the Act 4 clowning around.
That leaves the biggest change ; Eric Margiore’s Rodolfo. He’s a good singer and actor though perhaps a touch overparted as Rodolfo. But, and it’s a big but, he didn’t generate the sheer physical excitement that Michael Fabiano created on Wednesday night. Fabiano’s heroic Che gelida manina pretty much brought the house down while Margiore’s generated polite applause. That pattern continued through the evening to the very end. One got the impression that the audience, and the house was full, was being respectful, though not overly enthusiastic, in contrast to Wednesday’s almost rock concert like crowd! By and large, that mirrored my feelings.
One thing I did notice about the production that I missed first time up but thought was very effective is that right at the end, when Rodolfo is more or less draped over the dead Mimi, Marcello is madly, frantically sketching the scene. It’s a bit creepy but he would wouldn’t he?
There are six more performances in the run; three by each cast. Either cast is worth seeing. You pays your money and takes your choice.