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Subject: Gheorghiu's Mimi last night
From: Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 23 Nov 2008 12:06:49 -0800
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After sitting through my favorite Berlioz work being desecrated I
desperately needed a detox program in addition to 2 Aleves and Boheme was
just the right antidote.

So I went to hear La Boheme again last night in San Francisco. It was even
more emotional affair than the opening night especially because Angela
Gheorghiu was completely absorbed in character and it indeed brought out
what she does best.

Her Mimi (or director's idea of Mimi) starts out as a bit flirtatious and
naughty girl. She climbs the stairs with a perfectly lit candle and before
she makes that famous operatic knock she blows out the candle. She listens
to Rodolfo's self-intro leaning on the bed and when they go out to the
street before she picks out the bonnet, the first item she picks up and
"trying out" was a lacy black bra that made Rodolfo blush.
In Cafe Momus Mimi and Rodolfo (Piotr Beczala) shares Mimi's bowl of custard
just with good old style dipping and licking fingers and while Marcello
boils his heart out Mimi and Rodolfo engage in some serious Eskimo nose
kissing.

What was so powerful last night, compared to the opening night (Sunday
matinee) was Act IV. Last night she not only portrayed with her voice her
fragility, she became Mimi. As soon as Colline and Schaunard leaves he room,
Mimi climbs out of the bed, struggling to support her body before falling
into Rodolfo's arms. When she started singing "la mia cuffietta" her eyes
welled up with tears. I am not sure if it was Beczala's cry of Mimis that
did it but when Gheorghiu finally came out for curtain call with tears
streaming down her face, it wasn't her (lately) usual bouncy and cheerful
diva but a humble seamstress who died too young.

I found Luisotti's volume more balanced last night than the opening night
(this could be due to different section where I was sitting too) and as
before I really loved the way he conducted Act II crowd scene.

I see that Bohemes that Beczala/Gheorghiu are singing in are pretty much
sold out but if you can get tix for someone that you really want to get
hooked to the opera this is a sure recipe. The cast sound superb, looking
young and beautiful and are great convincing actors. Beczala and Gheorghiu
exude excellent chemistry (did they just sing Faust together somewhere?) and
although I've seen Gheorghiu's Mimi opposite Alagna in the past, I found
her Act I and III especially to be much more convincing with Beczala than
with Alagna.

The so-called "B-cast" is still up in the air. San Francisco Opera web site
still lists Joseph Calleja as Rodolfo opposite Maija Kovalevska although
Calleja web site says he withdrew from all of SFO Boheme due to cold
(although 9-12 day notice for cold is a bit unusual). It would be great if
Vargas is willing to stick around for another week after his run of
Elisir to partner Kovalevska (free rehearsal for Gelb, paid rehearsal for
Vargas?) since he'll be singing with her in the Met Boheme the following
week although I am not sure if Gockley is willing to spend mucho dinero for
the performances that are already pretty much sold out. If they decided to
use Merola pool I hope they choose David Lomeli to cover Calleja.


Kirsten Lee

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