Read us | Listen to us | Watch us | Join Live Events | Turn Off Ads | Live |

Click on your language to translate this article:

Afrikaans Afrikaans Albanian Albanian Amharic Amharic Arabic Arabic Armenian Armenian Azerbaijani Azerbaijani Basque Basque Belarusian Belarusian Bengali Bengali Bosnian Bosnian Bulgarian Bulgarian Cebuano Cebuano Chichewa Chichewa Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified) Corsican Corsican Croatian Croatian Czech Czech Dutch Dutch English English Esperanto Esperanto Estonian Estonian Filipino Filipino Finnish Finnish French French Frisian Frisian Galician Galician Georgian Georgian German German Greek Greek Gujarati Gujarati Haitian Creole Haitian Creole Hausa Hausa Hawaiian Hawaiian Hebrew Hebrew Hindi Hindi Hmong Hmong Hungarian Hungarian Icelandic Icelandic Igbo Igbo Indonesian Indonesian Italian Italian Japanese Japanese Javanese Javanese Kannada Kannada Kazakh Kazakh Khmer Khmer Korean Korean Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kyrgyz Kyrgyz Lao Lao Latin Latin Latvian Latvian Lithuanian Lithuanian Luxembourgish Luxembourgish Macedonian Macedonian Malagasy Malagasy Malay Malay Malayalam Malayalam Maltese Maltese Maori Maori Marathi Marathi Mongolian Mongolian Myanmar (Burmese) Myanmar (Burmese) Nepali Nepali Norwegian Norwegian Pashto Pashto Persian Persian Polish Polish Portuguese Portuguese Punjabi Punjabi Romanian Romanian Russian Russian Samoan Samoan Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic Serbian Serbian Sesotho Sesotho Shona Shona Sindhi Sindhi Sinhala Sinhala Slovak Slovak Slovenian Slovenian Somali Somali Spanish Spanish Sudanese Sudanese Swahili Swahili Swedish Swedish Tajik Tajik Tamil Tamil Thai Thai Turkish Turkish Ukrainian Ukrainian Urdu Urdu Uzbek Uzbek Vietnamese Vietnamese Xhosa Xhosa Yiddish Yiddish Zulu Zulu

La bohème inspirits Sydney Opera House

The quintessential visit to Oz requires a romantic night out at the opera – specifically within the amazing performing arts center built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the UNESCO world heritage si

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The quintessential visit to Oz requires a romantic night out at the opera – specifically within the amazing performing arts center built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the UNESCO world heritage site which dominates Sydney Harbor.

Now on stage at the Sydney Opera is a new production of Puccini’s La bohème from director Gale Edwards, and designers Brian Thomson and Julie Lynch. The original opera was set in the Quartier Latin of Paris in 1830. Fast forward 100 years: Puccini’s romantic classic has been transplanted to the glittering Spiegeltent of 1930’s Berlin.

The joyful and free ambiance in the first two acts is overtaken by a dark atmosphere in the third and fourth; the artificial amusement and joys of the cabarets have in their counterpart the distant thunder of incoming Nazism. The re-imagined Café Momus is a decadent haven, where drugs, free sex, lesbians, gays, and artists from all over Europe are every day recurrence.

The modern rendering of Mimi and Rodolfo is far more realistic than typical casting, where a very fat and aged tenor courts a rotund soprano. Hyeseoung Kwon is actually a waif, resembling the appropriate Physique du Rôle for a Mimi. Similarly, Rodolfo (played by Martin Buckingham) is youthful and agile. Schaunard (played by Shane Lowrencev) is a gay character in this production; imagine that – a gay musician – how very PC. Musetta (played by Jacqueline Mabardi) is dressed to the nines in her dazzling cocktail gowns; she is coifed in the softer, curlier style of the 30s that radiates voluptuous femininity à la Jean Harlow. Her sizzling presentation provides great contrast for the juxtaposition of the passionate stormy relationship between Musetta and Marcello, to the more romantic love experienced between Mimi and Rodolfo at the climax of the third act. Buckingham radiates charm and charisma as his beautiful tenor voice enchants the audience with Puccini’s romanze. The entire opera is sustained by a perfectly balanced orchestra (impeccably conducted by Brian Castles-Onion) that never steals the stage from the actors; rather, it complements the voices like lovers walking hand in hand across a sunset-lit beach.

Stagecrafting for the opera is remarkably fresh: of particular note is the transition from act one to two, when a melancholic loft becomes a vibrant cabaret in the blink of an eye, thanks to clever and efficient engineering. Staging takes on a more abstract role in the opening scene of the third act, where a tollgate serves as a metaphor for the dramatic passage from Weimar Germany into an oppressive military dictatorship.
This interpretation of La bohème maintains the essence of ill-fated love, desire, and inevitable death without being excessively strappalacrime like most of the productions we have seen in the past.

This updated rendition, which could raise eyebrows in a more traditional venue like La Scala, fares magnificently in the ultra-modern Sydney Opera House, iconic jewel of the young country of Australia. Opera Australia presents a variety of works throughout the year. For more information, kindly visit .

Print Friendly, PDF & Email