On Thursday night, at the tail end of the Polar Vortex in Chiberia, I attended the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the second time with my friend Sarah! We saw La bohème, an opera by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Richard Jones, and conducted by Stegano Sarzani. Though I absolutely loved seeing Il trovatore a few months ago, I have to say La bohème was so incredible in terms of the story! The opera is split into four acts. Act I covers the meeting of the story’s romantic leads, Mimi the seamstress played by Maria Agresta, and Rodolfo, the poet played brilliantly by Michael Fabiano. Apparently the latter had a cold, but he sure didn’t sound like he did! Wonderful singing, indeed. Being familiar with Rent (the musical and movie was based on Puccini’s opera), it was fun to watch how this scene paralleled the Light My Candle song between Mimi and Roger. All in all, Act I was very fun, light, romantic and sweet.
Act II was probably my favorite, as the bohemians are behaving rather raucously in the Latin Quarter of Paris, in a sort of dine and dash, debauched manner. We are also introduced to Musetta, a fabulous and sassy character, played beautifully by understudy, Ann Toomey of the Ryan Opera Center. Act III opens on a much more somber note, showing Mimi, sick with consumption, seeking out Rodolfo at a tavern in the winter, after another lover’s spat. We find out that Rodolfo is trying to push her away because as a broke poet, he doesn’t have the resources to take care for her and aid her in her ill health. They argue but eventually embrace, promising to separate “when the flowers bloom” in springtime.
Act IV shows Rodolfo and Marcello, the painter (and lover of Musetta), back in their drafty, drab rented room as shown in the beginning of Act I. They each pine for their lost loves, until Mimi and Musetta arrive unexpected. We find that Mimi has left her wealthy Viscount patron and Musetta has found her severely ill in the streets. At one point, Rodolfo and Mimi are left alone as she lays dying, but they reminisce sweetly over their initial meeting and happier memories. The opera ends abruptly on Rodolfo weeping over her dead body.
BAM! So I was like a leaky faucet at the end. Runny eyes, runny nose. I tried very hard to locate my Kleenex in my giant tote bag without rustling the plastic or being obnoxious. This story is beautiful. I love the music. The voices were wonderful, albeit the Il trovatore cast was a bit more powerful. Regardless, I thought the performers did a great job and particularly enjoyed Fabiano and Toomey’s voices.
Very romantic indeed! Makes me wish the current state of dating and romance is not filtered through swiping on a screen. It’s certainly much more boring then the drama in this show. I recommend this opera to any other newbies, especially if they’re familiar with Rent. Lovely, lovely! I can’t wait to see another Puccini opera. Thank you, again, Sarah for the special treat!
By the way, prior to the show, we went to the darling Café Bonhomme at 180 North Wacker and enjoyed some delicious burrata with garlicky sourdough, squash soup and Portuguese wine, recommended to us by their wonderful server, Jelly (not sure on spelling). A fabulous evening indeed!
Thanks for reading! To get new post notifications for “Oh hey!”, subscribe with your email address and follow me on Instagram at megkfree77!