Updated La Bohème

The catalogue is full of La Bohèmes from regional houses sung by serviceable casts.  The version recorded at the Teatro Regio Torino in 2016 is another.  My reason for wanting to look at it is because the production was directed by Àlex Ollé of La Fura dels Baus and I hoped it would prove as insightful as Stefan Herheim’s Oslo production.  It doesn’t really.  He gives the piece a fairly gritty modern setting but I don’t think it speaks to our modern insecurities the way Herheim does.  Rather it plays pretty much as a gritty 19th century setting, which is, admittedly, vastly preferable to Zeffischenk excess or ne0-Broadway tweeness.


So, in Act 1 we are in a tenement building of some kind.  There are many rooms and Rodolfo’s and Mimi’s are among them.  It’s all very metallic and industrial but otherwise the scene plays out pretty much straight.  Act 2 may well be set in Toronto’s Distillery District.  It’s horribly crowded and there are lots of stalls selling expensive tat.  Café Momus is high concept and obviously expensive but the food doesn’t look very exciting.  It would fit right in in the Distillery!  Act 3 takes place outside either a louche club or a brothel or perhaps a bit of both.  Act 4 is back on the Act 1 set.  Nothing “off script” happens really.


The singing is not bad at all.  Giorgio Berrugi is a genial Rodolfo with a nice voice but he doesn’t do spine tingling top notes.  He’s not a young Domingo, or even a Michael Fabiano, but he gets the job done.  His Mimi, Irina Lungu, is also on the light side but she’s a good actress and genuinely affecting.  In some ways the lightness is apt as Gianandrea Noseda takes a rather analytically detailed approach to the score rather than giving it the Korngold film score treatment.  The Musetta is Kelebogile Besong and she acts pretty broad in the Momus scene without actually being terribly sexy.  She’s very good in Act 4 though.  Of the rest, it was mainly the Marcello of Massimo Cavaletti who caught my attention.  He’s got the biggest voice on display and it’s pretty lush too.  The Teatro Regio orchestra, chorus and children’s chorus are really rather good.


The video direction by Tiziano Mancini is very good.  Most of the scenes are quite dark and it must have been tempting to go for a heavy on the close ups approach.  He doesn’t.  He uses them judiciously but not excessively, even in the closing moments.  This looks fine on Blu-ray but I really doubt it works as well on DVD.  The DTS-HD surround sound is excellent.  The only extras on the disk are a few trailers (that Bregenz Turandot looks interesting!).  The booklet has a short and not very informative essay, a brief synopsis and a track listing.  Subtitle options are English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Korean and Japanese.




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