Heritage Opera’s Atmospheric La bohème Flows Seamlessly

25/03/2016

Puccini, La bohème: Heritage Opera / Benjamin Cox (conductor/pianist), Lowther Pavilion, Lytham, Lancashire, 24.3.2016. (MC)

Heritage Opera La boheme

La bohème (c) Heritage Opera

Puccini, La bohème

Sung in English translation with piano and string quartet accompaniment.

Cast:

Rodolfo: Philip Lee
Mimì: Sarah Helsby Hughes
Marcello: Nicolas Dwyer
Musetta: Andrea Tweedale
Schaunard: Matthew Kellett
Colline: Matthew Palmer
Benoît & Alcindoro: Justin Bindley
Waitress: Eleanor Strutt

Production:

Director: Sarah Helsby Hughes
Set design/construction: David Berry
Stage Manager: Charlie Mortimer
Production assistant: Eleanor Strutt

Handkerchiefs were out in force at Lytham for one of the most tragic love stories in all opera. Set in a freezing garret a missing key leads to an unintentional meeting of cold hands by poet Rodolfo and seamstress Mimi. For this spring production Heritage Opera had chosen Puccini’s irresistible four act opera La bohème, a heartbreaking romance set around 1830 in the student’s quarter of Paris, which has an enduring popularity with audiences.

Directed by Sarah Helsby Hughes this traditional production, although sung in English, flowed seamlessly and was full of sincerity and atmosphere. Set in the first half of nineteenth century Paris, David Berry’s simple, uncluttered but highly effective scenery consisted primarily of cardboard stand-ups in the manner of Toulouse-Lautrec which was very much in keeping with the painting talents of Marcello the likeable young artist. Highly evocative of the period dress code the costumes were excellent too. Typical of Heritage Opera were the number of smaller details it is so good at delivering such as French sticks ideal for the duel and food fight, sausage and chicken, cigars, the wood burner, and spitting out wine and lots more!

Those who follow Heritage Opera may have noticed that company stalwart Nicholas Sales who has previously sung Rodolfo is currently playing in Boris Godunov at the Royal Opera House alongside Bryn Terfel. Philip Lee stepped into his shoes to play Rodolfo and could be seen growing into the role as his confidence increased. Unfortunately, try as I might I couldn’t get on with the tenor’s nasal sounding voice although he sang well and was especially comfortable in his high register.

No stranger to the part of Mimi, Helsby Hughes was in prime form as the consumptive seamstress who has found love. Suitably girlish in voice, expressive and displaying a creamy, unforced tone her acting too was top-drawer especially with her captivating portrayal of the dying heroine in the final scene.

Nicolas Dwyer proved to be a steady Marcello demonstrating a fine expressive voice, excellent stage presence and acting ability. Of the remaining parts Matthew Kellett as Schaunard and Andrea Tweedale as Musetta made the most of their opportunities and I wait eagerly to see them in more prominent roles. Also satisfying was the well balanced flow of sound from the pit from music director Benjamin Cox and his string quartet.

Heritage Opera’s cast and production team in particular Sarah Helsby Hughes for her dual role deserved every bit of the warm audience applause for an evening that was a veritable triumph.

Michael Cookson

 

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • NEW! The Twelfth English Music Festival Coming Soon in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Kenneth MacMillan’s The Sleeping Beauty at the London Coliseum in June __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018/19 Birmingham Classical Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe Star in The King and I at the London Palladium __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF) 2018 Celebrates its Eighth Year __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Chess at the London Coliseum from 26 April for 5 Weeks __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! The London Orchestra Project’s Metamorphosen on 27 May at LSO St Luke’s __________________________________
  • NEW! MARKUS POSCHNER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! A First Charity Classical Music Concert at Finchcocks on 27 May __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! Newly Discovered Song by Alma Mahler to be Performed in Oxford and Newbury __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month