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It feels like I've come a long way in the genre of Opera. From absolute detest to absolute ADORE. And since my virgin opera experience in Singapore Lyric Opera's (SLO) Turandot (2008), there has been no turning back. It's been a crazy discovery thus far and each new opportunity to learn more about the art form has been a complete delight.

SLO kicks off 2010 with possibly Giacomo Puccini's most famous and romantic opera, La Bohème. The opera was directed by Andrew Sinclair who directed this same opera nine times in his career. The cast included Nancy Yuen (Mimi), Simon Kyung Lee (Rodolfo), Song Kee Chang (Marcello), Kristin Symes (Musetta), Martin Ng (Colline), Brent Allcock (Schaunard) and William Lim (Benoit / Alcindoro).

The story in a nutshell. Soprano, Anna Netrebko and Tenor, Rolando Villazón stars in the feature-film "La Bohème" released in UK cinemas on 19th December 2008.

The story was originally set in the 1830s, but this presentation, Andrew Sinclair fast-forwarded the opera by a century, setting it in 1930s Paris, where bohemians thrived.
It was a very important time because the world was in economic depression. But it was also an important time for the artists, dancers and film-makers who flocked to Paris, which was the centre of the free-thinking world.
La Bohème is based on a series of short stories by Henri Murger called "Scenes de la Vie de Bohème" which appeared in a journal and were so popular that they were turned into a play. A great deal of the material in these stories is autobiographical and based on characters known to Murger.

They are a vivid representation of student life in Paris at the time - A quartet of artists living in a run-down apartment in Paris, one of whom is Rodolfo, who falls in love with a neighbour, Mimi. The love story traces the passionate love affair of Mimi and Rodolfo, the breakup of their relationship and the short-lived conciliation before Mimi’s tragic death due to poor health.

What greeted us as we made our way to our stall seats

After a disappointing theatre experience late last year in Victor/Victoria, I was truly looking forward to what critics have claimed to be one of the best Italian operas of all time. The performance was playing to a full house crowd and possibly one of the most well dressed I've ever seen at the Esplanade. Gentlemen in suits and ladies in gowns and scarfs. It was truly opera attire, even I felt a little under-dressed with my knee length pink dress. Kemmy was rather embarrassed to be in three quarts!

Through out the 4 act, 2 hour 10 mins (excluding 2 intermissions) production, we were greeted with many musical high points, among them:

Love duet of Act One. This one performed by Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni in Torino, Italy (1996). Of course nothing compares to the vocal extraordinaire of these two opera masters!

"Musetta's Waltz" and chorus crowd scenes of Act Two.
Performed here by Hei-Kyung Hong, Teatro Alla Scala (2003,TDK)

The curtains re-opened at the end of this act with a freeze frame of the colour and buzz of the Paris scene. Bet everyone (myself included) wish they whipped out their phone cameras to capture the pictorial moment!
I love the entire performance for how real life situations of mischief, passion and heartache came into play. It made opera a reflection of life.

The music of La Bohème is very easy on the ears, but few of the melodies really cling and repeat endlessly. It leads one to appreciate the entire opera for what it is worth. SLO didn't have the best singers nor actors which were crucial for this opera, perhaps more so then any other. Having sub-titles going out of sync in high tension moments also didn't help. But for SLO to be able to mount a production of this quality on its small annual budget is itself a remarkable achievement.

Their next opera will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute. Staged from the 23 - 28 July 2010.

"Victor/Victoria" and a Laura Fygi personalised autograph
The Tales of Hoffmann
Puccini Gala: The Virgin Opera
Turandot: Night At The Opera
Turandot 'Nessun Dorma'

1 comment:

  1. "SLO kicks off 2009 with possibly Giacomo Puccini's most famous and romantic opera, La Bohème."

    Wrong year.



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