The first romantic film I ever saw was Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. One of my all-time favourite scenes in that film is when Cage’s character takes Cher’s character to her first operatic experience, La Bohème, at the glorious Metropolitan Opera and how Cage’s hand inches toward Cher’s, while a woman sings heartbreakingly, and how a single tear runs down Cher’s cheek.
I’ve since seen Moonstruck probably a dozen of times it’s become clear that it’s the love story within the love story that is the ultimate romantic viewing experience. So when I found out that La Bohème was the Vancouver Opera’s season opener, I was more than just a little excited.
All the performances were spot-on with tenor Jason Slaydon (Rodolfo) and Marianne Fiset (Mimi), both making their Vancouver Opera debut, driving the show with deep understandings of their characters and expressing it through their phenomenal voices. I also adored mezza-soprano Krisxtina Szabo who was a lot of fun to watch as the gold-digging flirt, Musetta)
The set was spectacular and multi-dimensional. Act Two began with an impressionist painting of a crowded Parisian street being projected onto a see-through screen, with actors slightly replicating that painting just behind it. The result was a beautifully-layered tableau. I also really loved how video of snow falling was used on the same see-through screen in the third act
The greatest love stories are tragic, and this tragedy is what primarily drives the appeal for this story of Mimi and Rodolfo. But what really makes La Bohème so popular here (this is probably the most frequently mounted opera at the VO) and everywhere, is that’s it’s relatable. Qe each have been in Mimi and Rodolfo’s shoes or have felt what they have, and have come to understand that love isn’t what we thought it was. As expressed by Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck,
“…love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.”
Vancouver Opera presents La Bohème this Thursday October 25th, Saturday October 27th, and Sunday October 28th at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Follow Vancouver Opera on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about their shows this season.