As the English National Opera prepares to put on Jonathon Miller’s production of Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, I give you 5 good reasons why you should see this amazing piece of musical theatre.
It’s In the Top 5 Operas
According to Operabase.com, an authority on Opera statistics, La Boheme is third in the top 5 most produced operas in the world. Only Verdi’s La Traviata and Bizet’s Carmen have been produced more times. Also in the top 10 are Puccini’s other famous works Madame Butterfly and Tosca, proving that Puccini had the magic touch when it came to writing hits.
It’s For Everyone
Unlike many of the other opera out there, La Boheme is for everyone and not just the fancy folk in their fancy limos. There is one big classic death scene but is more touching than anything else and does not take an hour or involve beheadings and Viking helmets. It is simply the story of 2 very poor artists and the woman they both fall in love with. It was written in the verismo, or realistic style and features very natural looking costumes and sets. The elitist critics hated the opera when it debuted in 1896, giving further kudos to it being an opera for the everyman.
It’s Set in Winter
Apart from the great Russian operas, most operas are set in summertime. However, La Boheme begins on Christmas Eve and Act III takes place on a very cold and wintery February morning. The story of the artist heroes trying their best to survive in the icy climates is something that most people can relate to.
It Follows the KISS Principle
La Boheme is different from a lot of operas because it follows the principles of KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid. There is no need to study accompanying notes or to attend university to understand the ploy. It is perhaps one of the most direct and simple story ever told – boy meets a girl, boy loses the girl, boy gets the girl back, boy loses the girl again. That’s all there is to it, along with the side plots of the love story of Marcello and Musetta and the funny and often heart-warming actions of Shaunard the musician and Colline the philosopher. The easy to follow and understand storyline allows the romantic and beautiful music to take centre stage.
Real Acoustic Singing
While you may have seen opera on TV or at the cinema in the past, if you have never seen it at a proper theatre or opera house, nothing compares to the genuine article. Seeing and hearing it live in the flesh and the performers using the oldest instrument in the history of man and the world, the human voice, is nothing short of sublime. As well as being an enticing and pleasing attack on our ears, it is also a wonderful thing to watch and look at, with complex and beautifully designed clothes, sets and lighting, it all adds to the overall experience.