La bohème – Opera in four Acts to a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica after Henri Murger’s novel Scènes de la vie de bohème [sung in Italian, with English Met Titles by Sonya Friedman]
Marcello – David Bizic
Rodolfo – Dmytro Popov
Colline – Ryan Speedo Green
Schaunard – Rodion Pogossov
Benoit / Alcindoro – Philip Cokorinos
Mimì – Ailyn Pérez
Parpignol – Daniel Clark Smith
Musetta – Susanna Phillips
Customhouse Sergeant – Yohan Yi
Customhouse Officer – Joseph Turi
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Franco Zeffirelli – Production & Set Design
Peter J. Hall – Costume Design
Gil Wechsler – Lighting Design
J. Knighten Smith – Stage Director
Reviewed by: Christopher Browner
Reviewed: 28 September, 2016
Venue: The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York City
As the Metropolitan Opera’s 2016-17 season-opening week continued, the company presented the first of fifteen performances of Franco Zeffirelli’s classic production of Puccini’s La bohème, which first appeared in 1981 and has become a mainstay at the Met and also serving many promising young singers.
Dmytro Popov, hailing from the Ukraine, has portrayed Rodolfo, the heartfelt poet, at several other leading houses. His voice is somewhat heavier than is typically heard in the role, and he punched out burnished and powerful top notes. He made a greater impact when blending with colleagues, such as the touching conclusion to Act Three and in the wistful duet with the painter Marcello during Act Four.
Ailyn Pérez brought a warm timbre and refined musicality to Mimi, Rodolfo’s frail-yet-beguiling lover. She capped lush phrases with radiant top notes that soared over Puccini’s tender melodies, and her understated physicality made her elegant portrayal an endearing one. In a red-velvet gown, Susanna Phillips sang Musetta, Marcello’s over-the-top former flame. Phillips’s once-creamy soprano already shows signs of fraying; her high notes in the show-stopping Act Two waltz verged on the tinny. Still, she wrung great comedy out of Musetta’s outrageous behavior.
As Marcello David Bizic sang with richly robust color and strength. Ryan Speedo Green as the philosopher Colline offered an interpretation marked by resonance and dignity. While his voice was rather weighty for the jovial banter of Act One, it was perfect for Colline’s ardent aria during the final tragic moments. Rodin Pogosov’s talents were underserved as the musician Schaunard, while veteran Philip Cokorinos brought oversized characterizations to Benoit and to Alcindoro.
In the early stages, the Metropolitan Orchestra overpowered the singers, but under Carlo Rizzi it ultimately delivered a sweeping account of Puccini’s score and also evoked the many subtle colors that make La bohème such a beloved masterpiece.