On Stage: Opera Australia’s La Bohème

Opera Australia’s  production of La Bohème  at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre has much to offer opera fans and novices alike.

Opera Australia's La Bohème.

Opera Australia’s La Bohème.

For fans there’s the chance to hear truly wonderful voices and see some stunning set designs. Those new to opera can discover what all the fuss is about!  After all La Bohème is one of the world’s most performed and loved operas.  Its storyline about impoverished young lovers – Rodolfo and Mimi – falling in love before tragedy strikes, is ageless and universal.
The current production  first came to Melbourne in 2011. Set designer Brian Thomson’s brief from OA was for an opulent, sexy and beautiful production – which he certainly delivers.

Opera Australia Chorus members with Lianna Haroutounian (Mimì), Gianluca Terranova (Rodolfo), Richard Anderson (Colline) and Andrew Jones (Marcello) in Opera Australia's La Bohème.

Opera Australia Chorus members with Lianna Haroutounian (Mimì), Gianluca Terranova (Rodolfo), Richard Anderson (Colline) and Andrew Jones (Marcello) in Opera Australia’s La Bohème.

Director Gail Edwards has set the opera in 1930’s Berlin (as opposed to the original opera in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1830s) which is in the final throes of the Weimar Republic before the Nazi takeover. Scenes vary from the absolute poverty of the time as shown by the studio Rodolfo shares with his fellow poor artists to the extreme glamour of Café Momus. In this production the café is an opulent cabaret joint complete with mirrored panels and an assortment of colourfully (and half dressed) characters.

The studio set in Opera Australia's La Bohème

The studio set in Opera Australia’s La Bohème

The attention to detail is a highlight of all sets, especially the paintings which are a feature of the studio set in acts one and four. The costumes by Julie Lynch are another highlight.
But it’s the performances of the cast which make this production so memorable. Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian and Italian born Gianluca Terranova give brilliant performances as Mimì and Rodolfo.

Lianna Haroutounian (Mimì) and Gianluca Terranova (Rodolfo) in Opera Australia's La Bohème.

Lianna Haroutounian (Mimì) and Gianluca Terranova (Rodolfo) in Opera Australia’s La Bohème.

They are equally well supported by Jane Ede as Musetta, Shane Lowrencev as the musician Schaunard, Andrew Jones as Marcello the painter and Richard Anderson as Colline the philosopher.
Interestingly my companion for the evening had only weeks earlier seen La Bohème performed at the Met in New York. She thought this was better as the cast was stronger and the production fresher. Given the performances on opening night her comments didn’t come as a surprise.
La Bohème is playing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre until May 28. For more information and tickets visit Opera Australia’s website or ring 03 9685 3700.

*All photos: Jeff Busby

Jenny Burns attended the opening night of La Bohème on May 3 as a guest of Opera Australia.

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2 Responses to On Stage: Opera Australia’s La Bohème

  1. Zsuzsanna Klee May 13, 2016 at 1:00 am #

    UNFORGETTABLE RODOLFO AND MIMI!!! THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR ARTICLE! OUR ONLY REGRET, THAT WE JUST CAN NOT FIND ANY VIDEOS IN YOUTUBE, ALTHOUGHT SUCH A WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE OF 2 MAGNIFICENT ARTISTS SHOULD BE KEPT AND PLAY FOR ALL OF US, ARDENT ADMIRERS, AND FOR THE COMING GENERATIONS!!! STILL HOPE THAT THE TREASURED VIDEOS WILL BE COMING SOON!!!!

    • Jenny Burns May 13, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      Hi Zsuzsanna, thanks for your comments. Agree it would be great to see such wonderful performances available to watch again and again!

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