La Boheme will always pulls in the punters and for an LGBTQ audience, this is and should be no exception. “Rent” the musical was influenced heavily by Puccini’s La Boheme and lovers of musical theatre should not let the opportunity to see this offering from Opera North pass them by. In fact, there are some lovely soupçons throughout – Rodolpho’s portraits of Musetta, a drag Marilyn Monroe and a ominous Parpignol, styled as a roller-skating child catcher, guarantee this production has just as many laughs as it does tears.
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd (most famous for her global hit Mamma Mia), her staging of Puccini’s tale in bohemian life in Paris, is so enjoyable and you can’t help feeling you are living the life these young friends are living. La Boheme is a piece of emotional immensity and Lloyd’s production pulls this off with such talent.
Young adoration and heartbreak, focussed by Puccini’s powerfully lyrical music, make the textbook combination. Supported by a strong chorus of men, women and children, the international cast is exceptional. Stand out performances from Anush Hovhannisyan (Musetta), Ukrainian baritone Yuriy Yurchuk (Marcello), Eleazar Rodriguez (Rodolfo) and Lauren Fagan, as the doomed Mimi, is just superb. As the lovers stand in the moonlight, Fagen’s duet with Rodriguez, “O Soave Fanciulla”, proves to be one of the highpoints of the evening. The timeless themes of love and loss ensure this audience laugh as much as cries, and the production is made all the fiercer for it.
La Boheme is a great show for theatre goers who want to dip their toe into Opera. Opera North excel at making Opera accessible to all and this production of La Boheme, with it’s engaging, distressing and spirited content make this an ideal introduction for newcomers looking to explore what Opera has to offer.
You can and should catch this production at The Lowry Theatre, 14th and 15th November. 7.30pm start.
Dean Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online.