Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw has developed into one of our finest singers and having delighted in WNO’s Eugene Onegin, a role she repeated at Scottish Opera, she now makes her debut at English National Opera singing Mimi in La Boheme.
This the 2009 Jonathan Miller production that places our young bohemians in the 1930s Paris, an inter wars world of jazz age glamour balanced with prostitution and poverty.
But what makes this La Boheme interesting is that it also makes us think about the relationship between the two pairs of lovers, and particularly between Rodolfo and Mimi. Yes, they are young lovers, but they are also portrayed as earthy and realistic, the emotions are all there, the singing and music sends tingles down the spine, yet we see these characters as very real.
There is nothing to shock or disappoint in the setting, the garret is what you would expect, cold, minimalist, rundown and for the Café Momus scene we have a character-filled street tableaux although perhaps too cramp and therefore over busy for our splendid Nadine Benjamin as Musetta to really delight. She is fun and sings the famous aria.
The wintery scene where Mimi and Rodolfo accept their relationship is doomed is pretty functional and here some of the updating jars a little but it is also in this scene that Romainw’s singing is at its very finest. This is exquisite work from the intelligent spinto lyric soprano.
We were told that Jonathan Tetelman was suffering from a cold but he was still a warm and seductive, handsome of voice and also stature Rodolfo, love-struck, jealous-ridden and a very appealing performer.
He was accompanied by a balanced trio of Bohemians. Nicholas Lester, who recently sang in Carmen with Mid Wales Opera, sings a delightful Marcello while a regular WNO singer David Soar’s is a richly-voiced Colline and we have a fine Schaunard from Božidar Smiljanić’.
8 Evening Performances Remaining
02 07 09 12 14 20 22 Feb
1 Matinee Performance Remaining