La Bohème: You Should Have Seen It With Your Own Eyes

Anthony Abron

On Saturday October 6th, I and the rest of my family went to see La Bohème at Independence Mall. The production was done by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. They do a production like this every year. Last year they did the French opera Carmen. The night was cold and dark; a perfect setting for this beautiful piece to warm you from the inside out. The singing was beautiful. The crowd was enormous. The cheers were pleasing. Everything about the performance was just mind-boggling.

I first received notice about the event when I was at my sister’s ballet school and from there I convinced my mom to take me since I am a huge opera fan. I also convinced Mrs. Wilkinson to go since La Bohème  is her favorite opera. When October 6th came, I was about as excited as person getting their first quarter from the tooth fairy. It was going to be the second opera I was going to see up close. My first operatic experience was when I was in 6th grade and went to see Porgy and Bess.

We were late as usual. However, we got to the lawn of Independence Mall as soon as it started. I realized the opera was going to be a success as soon as I heard the beautiful crystalline voice of Bryan Hymel. His performance of Rodolfo was just perfect. His high notes were spectacular and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the room whenever he sang about Mimi’s sickness. Whenever Mimi and Rodolfo sang an aria, you could see the passion in the eyes of Hymel as he sang. That’s what it takes to wow a crowd.

Mimi is a different story. Her singing again was great. She had perfect sound and perfect characterization. My problem with Norah Amsellem was that in playing the character, she made the character seem old. I don’t know if I only thought that but it seemed wrong to be portrayed like the way it was. When I picture la bohème in my head, I picture two young couples madly in love. Young is the key word in that sentence. Rodolfo looked young in his performance and he gradually grew. I feel like I blame the make-up artist because when you look at Norah’s face in real life she doesn’t look old at all. At the end of the day, it’s about the voice and she had it.

I’ve talked about both of the upper voices in La Bohème  so it’s only right that I talk about the bass in the show. The role for the bass voice in this opera is Colline. Colline has one big aria in the show and it’s his song to his coat. He was just pure genius. If there was one person in the audience who didn’t like it, that person needs to get their ears checked. Again, beauty and talent were displayed. His career is just on the rise and I garuntee to you that he is going to be the Ezio Pinza of our generation. I look forward to the day when I see him perform at the Metropolitan Opera House.

All in all, La Bohème  is a terrific show, and an outdoor performance made for a terrific evening. For any reader who thinks you could never like opera, I would encourage you to look on Youtube for Renee Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, Jennifer Larmore, or Dmitri Hvorostovsky for an introduction.  You might be surprised!