La bohème (DVD)
Sonya Yoncheva, Charles Castronovo, Andrzej Filończyk, Simona Mihai, Gyula Nagy, Peter Kellner; Royal Opera House Orchestra/Emmanuel Villaume; dir. Richard Jones (London, 2020)
Opus Arte DVD: OA1332D; Blu-ray: OABD7287D 118 mins
Carefully revived by Julia Burbach and Simon Iorio in this 2020 filming, Richard Jones’s 2017 Royal Opera production – unlike so many these days – remains in Paris, though with the action moved a few decades forward. Stewart Laing’s designs are mostly sparse, but there’s been a grand splurge on the Café Momus, with its three grand arcades and upmarket restaurant, and you witness the change of set before your very eyes.
Individual performances are perceptive and human. Charles Castronovo makes a likeable Rodolfo, his sense of Italianate style as much an asset as the dynamic range of his lyric tenor, while Andrzej Filończyk’s Marcello offers energy and personality with vocal warmth. Gyula Nagy’s Schaunard bubbles over with good-humour, and Peter Kellner’s Colline makes a touching moment out of his Act IV solo. With Sonya Yoncheva’s Mimì, one is aware of the character’s illness from the moment you see her, while her lavish tone works perfectly for Puccini’s writing. Simona Mihai plays an outrageous Musetta in Act II, where she’s wildly drunk; the whole scene, in fact, is irresistibly funny. Act III skilfully reveals the relationships between the two couples at their lowest ebb. By Act IV, Musetta has sobered up and one senses a profound change in her character. Conductor Emmanuel Villaume keeps the score nicely on the move in an interpretation full of feeling and detail.