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La Bohème

New York Lyric Opera Theatre

New York Lyric Opera Theatre has as its mission to bring opera to numerous venues at low cost or for free. Their seasons include many works of the standard repertoire, presented in concert performance and with piano accompaniment. It creates great opportunities for singers and music directors to gain experience in the standard repertoire, while providing very affordable listening opportunities for opera lovers. On December 12, they presented Puccini’s evergreen La Bohème in the National Opera Center. 

In this performance, it was the women who gave the strongest performances. Christina Major drew the audience’s affection and sympathy in a warm performance as Mimi.  She has a lovely lyric voice, and was particularly moving in Act I’s “Mi chiamano Mimì” and in the duet “O soave fanciulla.”  Ashley Bell was delightful as Musetta. Of all the singers, she was the most fully off-book, allowing her to devote more energy to the acting dimension of her role. She was charmingly coquettish in the “Quando me’n vo” (aka Musetta’s waltz), and empathetically supportive in Act IV’s conclusion.  

Theodore Chletsos achieved mixed results as Rudolfo. He has a voice that would project well in a large theatre, but he failed to modulate his volume for the rather close quarters of the National Opera Center, thus creating a harsh, forced sound in moments that called for tenderness. He was most convincing in Act III’s “Addio, dolce svegliare alla matina” and throughout Act IV. Robert-Heepyoung Oh was disappointing as Marcello. In the early acts he tended to sing in a style that more closely resembled shouting than singing. While this approach would be interesting and appropriate for a role such as Don Giovanni’s Comendatore, it was totally out of place in the context of La Bohème. His acting can best be described as wooden. During Musetta’s waltz, in which a major part of the charm lies in our watching Marcello grow more and more beguiled by Musetta’s charms, Oh did not even look at her.  Instead, he either watched his score or cast sidelong smirks towards Rudolfo. His performance improved in the final two acts, but the chance to achieve a convincing portrayal of Marcello had largely passed.  

Do Jin Jung gave a fine performance as Colline, and Dimitrie Lazich was a charismatic Schaunard.  Ray Calderon appeared as Benoit, and gave a terrific comic portrayal of Alcindoro, Musetta’s soon-to-be-jilted sugar daddy. Giovanni Longo directed from the piano with great sensitivity and musicality, but one wished that he had shown more influence with the cast.  It might have alleviated some of the volume and acting shortcomings mentioned above. spacer 



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