Saturday, 4 March 2017

Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème - Salzburger Landestheater, Haus für Mozart

Performance 2nd March

After a while also attended an opera performance in Salzburg again, this time in the former small festival hall (now called Haus für Mozart). Puccini's Bohème is something like an evergreen which always works and barely ends up in a mess. Also the new production by the Salzburger Landestheater is convincing the audience with a concept that is not really pioneering, but very pleasing to a mostly conservative audience. Andreas Gergen's production reminded me a lot of the festival production of 2012 and shows some noticable parallels, but also displays the plot very well most of the time. Only some very bold choices (that create some contradictions as well) did blur the overall impression. Particularly the house beat during the last few minutes of the second act were really inappropriate as well as some ideas that clearly were based on faulty translations. However most of the interactions were elaborated quite well and also the interesting stage (fettfilm) was incredibly versatile. The many projections worked out very well and created a magical atmosphere. The costumes by Regina Schill also looked lovely and helped to support the characterisations of the different roles.
Musically I was positively surprised by the performance because I have not experienced such a good performance of the Landestheater for quite a while. Not only because of the wonderful Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, but also because of the excellent casting of the singers. The young conductress (?) is one of the most promising young talents and there is a reason why she is in mind for bigger positions all the time. It really is a great loss that she will leave Salzburg so soon and it is always a pleasure to have her here to conduct. The Mozarteumorchester also seems to benefit from the highl musical woman and played wonderfully and passionately throughout the evening with a great sense for the emotions onstage.
The smaller roles were cast appropriately with Einar Th. Gudmundsson as Benoît and Franz Supper (always a highlight) as Parpignol, a role that I really never understood. Also Colline and Schaunard were sung very well by ensemble members Raimundas Juzuitis (lovely dark, but soft voice) and Elliott Carlton Hines (very flexible and elegant bright baritone voice).
David Pershall was a very good Marcello with a beautiful voice which has a lovely soft and warm timbre. He sang his role really passionately and probably gave the best performance of the evening with a very emotional portrayal of his role.
His Musetta was sung by Hailey Clark who impersonated the role wonderfully. Her voice combines a beautiful softness with great agility and clarity of singing. I really liked her performance which was really captivating both musically and acting-wise.
Luciano Ganci's Rodolfo was also sung very well with a bright and clear tenor voice, but he tended to be very loud an harsh in the upper register which sounded not really elegant. However, he gave a nice performance throughout the evening and ended the performance with very emotional "Mimì" screams.
The Role of Mimì was performed by Shelley Jackson who gave a marvelous and really touching performance. She has the ideal voice for that role with a warm lyrical voice that has a soft flexible timbre throughout all the registers. Only her upper register could sound a bit more free, but nevertheless she convinced me from the very first moment.
I can only hope that the Landestheater finally starts to cast more appropriately and we will have more production with good casts like this time. The new production of La Bohème earns 8 stars this time with good singing, but a bit of a capricious staging.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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