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A thorough success

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
04/17/2019 -  & April 26, 28, May 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 22, 2019
Giacomo Puccini: La bohème
Angel Blue*/Miriam Khalil (Mimì), Andiran Chuchman*/Danika Lorèn (Musetta), Atalla Ayen*/Joshua Guerrero (Rodolfo), Luca Meachem*/Andrzej Filonczyk (Marcello), Brandon Cedel*/Onay Kose (Colline), Phillip Addis*/Joel Allison (Schaunard), Donato Di Stefano (Benoît, Alcindoro), Taras Chmil (Parpignol), Jan Vaculik (Customs Officer), Samuel Chan (Sergeant)
The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and Chorus, Sandra Horst (concert master), Paolo Carignani*/Antonello Allemandi (conductor)
John Caird (original director), Katherine M. Carter (revival director), David Farley (set and costume designer), Michael James Clark (lighting designer)

A. Ayan, A. Blue (© Michael Cooper)

When this production was first presented in 2013 director John Caird’s concept showed us that the drama was being created in real time by Rodolfo the poet and Marcello the painter as they wrote and sketched the events of the story while they lived them. This time director Katherine M. Carter has treated us to a more straightforward rendering; this might sound like adverse criticism, but the result is that Puccini’s apparently simple but actually well-crafted work emerges with its freshness intact.

A lively cast capable of apparent spontaneity always helps of course.

While Atalla Ayan might not have the most soaring voice for the role of Rodolfo, his ardour is never in doubt and his presence charms the audience from the get-go.

Angel Blue brims with vitality, an excellent quality in a performer, but one which renders the fragile aspect of Mimi a bit of a slow starter. However, her performance in Act III sets a new high standard. I hope the COC manages to bring her back.

Lucas Meachem is a notably hearty presence and voice as Marcello, and the exuberant Andriana Chuchman is his match as Musetta.

Back in 2013 Christian Van Horne did a fine job as Colline and since then his career has soared nicely into lead roles at major theatres. Brandon Cedel displays an equally fine rich voice and I am sure his career will have a similar trajectory.

Other roles are well-sung and clearly etched. The COC orchestra and chorus are at their usual high standard. Paolo Carignani, in his third appearance with the COC, makes a welcome return.

In the opera world where the quest for innovation (thrills! surprises!) is exalted. If there is any surprise in this production, it is just how satisfying an openhearted, no-surprise, rendering of La Bohème) can be.

Michael Johnson



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