This imaginative production of Puccini's beloved opera about the triumphs and tragedies of a group of young artists in Paris is set in the early 1950s, using the economic doldrums in post-war Europe as its subtext. It was staged by director Baz Luhrmann and designers Catherine Martin and Bill Marron, who later went on to make the film Strictly Ballroom. Taped in a live performance at the Sydney Opera House, this production features The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra under the direction of Julian Smith, and stars Cheryl Baker, David Hobson, and Roger Lemke. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
I defy anyone to get past "Che gelida manina" without hitting the back button at least twice. (8 times for me) Also, if you have any doubt that David Hobson poured himself completely into his "Rodolfo", then check out the extended curtain call at the end. He never does seem to compose himself. Totally believable. (Men, you may not want to let your wife see it. This guy could steal her heart!) And, delightful to see an attractive Mimi (Cheryl Barker) Though this character was sickly, the background history of the book says she was based on an attractive model. The Met version features a normally attactive Teresa Stratas' eyes made up to look quite frightening. Could Rodofo have fallen in love with HER? On the contrary, in this version, Barker masterfully balances the combination of ill health and beauty. And, the appropriately youthful cast doesn't short you at all on voice quality. The other players were consistently excellent, and lovable.
Puccini's "La Boheme" is arguably the most popular opera on the planet. It's brief, bright and brilliantly written.
The problem with most productions (as in Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet") is that the actor/singers are nowhre near the age of the characters they portray. Luciano Pavarotti had the most gorgeous tenor voice but watching him play Rudolfo required a degree of suspension of belief.
Baz Lurhman's 1993 production for Opera Australia and later recreated on Broadway was a masterpiece of staging and casting.
The production for television by Australia's ABC was beautifully done. You will never see a cast to perfectly suited to the roles.
If you have the slightest interest in opera, please see this production.
Act One raises the temperature in the Sydney Opera House meansurably, the third act is sublime and the ending may find tears running down your face.