BWW Review: LA BOHÈME at KC Lyric Opera
It is perhaps a bit surprising that the Lyric is bringing back Bohème after only having performed it five seasons ago, but perhaps not that surprising given its perpetual popularity. The production - using some of the first sets constructed by the Lyric's in-house set ship - Are frankly exceedingly well done, and if the current production is not quite what one would hope for, the opera itself suffers not in the least.
The story is, of course, as always. Struggling poet Rodolfo (Georgy Vasiliev) and consumptive flower girl Mimi (Raquel González) meet, fall thoroughly in love, are driven apart and reunite just in time for Mimi to die with him. Rodolfo's bohemian friends Colline (Christian Zaremba), Schaunard (Hadleigh Adams), Marcello (Timothy Renner) and his on/off lover Musetta (Sylvia D'Eramo) accompany the two from winter through to spring: laughing, loving, fighting, and creating what art they can out of their lives.
There seems to have been a push in this production toward the humorous, to really lean on the comedy parts. It might be this viewer's imagination, but it really did feel as if they were trying for laughs rather more than is usual. Unfortunately, this did result in certain parts losing a bit of their dramatic power. The scene with Rodolfo and Mimi, for example, felt lighter than usual, with less emotional underpinning, and this reviewer found herself less than usually sympathetic for Mimi. Ms. González was in excellent voice, but somehow one just did not feel the character. Again, it is difficult to say whether this was down to performance or direction, but there it is. Mr. Vasiliev does give us a very good Rodolfo, however, and his "Che gelida manina" was particularly affecting.
Overall,the production was up to the usual Lyric standards. Certainly it is an old favorite, and they have gone to great lengths to present it well. But somehow, nevertheless, it felt lacking. Perhaps it is the fact that it is such a surefire crowd pleaser. One honestly couldn't say. In any case, the worst you could say is that it wasn't the best Bohème, but that still puts it ahead of the game.