Opéra de Montréal’s La Bohème runs May 20, 23, 25, 27, 7:30PM, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts. A special free giant-screen simulcast will take place, rain or shine, at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Saturday, May 27, 2017, at 7:30PM. www.operademontreal.com
This year Opéra de Montréal is betting on a young, all-Canadian cast to present their last opera of the season, La bohème. Five of the eight singers in the opera are part of the alumni of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.
The soprano France Bellemare – who portrays the lead role of Mimì – is the indisputable star of the show. She displayed great legato and good chemistry with conductor James Meena, who pulled out some magical moments by emphasizing nuances in the score. Bellemare’s strongest moments came in Mimì’s aria “Si, mi chiamano Mimì” and in the duet scene with Marcello interpreted by Justin Welsh. Both singers performances communicated true friendship.
The tenor Luc Robert delivered the highly expected high C from the aria “Che gelida manina” in a very resonant way. He showcased strong and clear high notes throughout the opera. At the general rehearsal his stage presence and general posture compared to his vocal skills seemed a bit too nonchalant. His interpretation was more convenient for a Nemorino than a Rodolfo. He was consistently out of sync with the orchestra and had difficulty connecting emotionally to the other characters.
The supporting characters all managed to radiate a very youthful outgoing energy. In terms of voice, baritone Chris Dunham, who played a moustachioed Schaunard, stood out with his lyrical and ringing voice.
The stage sets were traditional and efficient however the clever introduction of a large picture glass window facilitated the transition between the dwelling of the three friends and cafe Momus.
The stage director, Alain Gauthier opted for a commedia dell arte choreographed comedic approach with mixed results. The audience responded with laughter many times. However, at other times the gags seemed forced and prevented a sincere connection between the actors.
La Scena attended the last general rehearsal before the grand premiere of the opera on Saturday May 20th.