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Puccini La Bohème

Royal Albert Hall 4 March 2006


Mimi: Indira Mahajan

Rudolfo: Adrian Dwyer

Musetta : Stefanie Krahnenfeld (pictured)

Marcello: Grant Doyle

Colline: Dean Robinson

Schaunard: Richard Burkhard

Alcindoro / Benoit: Henry Waddington

Parpignol: Mark Bradbury

Customs Officer: Paul Sheehan


Director: Francesca Zambello

Set Design: Peter J Davison

Costume Design: Sue Wilmington

Choreographer: Arthur Pita

Lighting Design: Andrew Bridge

Sound Design: Bobby Aitken
Conductor: David Parry or Stuart Stratford


Spectacle is what the audience has come to expect from opera-in-the-oval at the Royal Albert Hall, and spectacle is certainly what they get with Francesca Zambello's production of La Bohème. The railway station setting works well and provides the cast with a long cat-walk like platform on which to strut their stuff, and this they do a-plenty. The orchestra was enclosed in a box and the conductor at our performance was probably David Parry.


The Café Momus scene springs to life with roller skating waiters and builds from there a room full of happy diners, street sellers with holly and all kinds of Christmas treats, overexcited children, and the on-stage marching band.


Similarly, the early morning scene is full of interest, with plenty of finely drawn character performances from actors and chorus. Wherever you sit, there is some piece of action pointing in your direction, and overall there is far more than the eye can take in. Indeed there is so much detail to draw your attention that it is easy to lose sight of the main protagonists.

The more intimate garret scenes are more concentrated and the enthusiastic cast are just at the right age for characters they are portraying. Stefanie Krahnenfeld is a splendidly over-the-top Musetta, Adrian Dwyer and Grant Doyle (Rudolfo and Marcello) both have impressive voices, Richard Burkhard also sings well and scales up his body language to suit the big arena. There are good cameos from Dean Robinson (Colline) and Henry Waddington (a wonderfully comic Alcindoro). Only Indira Mahajan (Mimi) slightly disappointed, neither her voice nor her acting quite reached the heartstrings.


But taken as a whole it's a feast for the eye and easy on the ear the sound balance is exceptionally well managed just the sort of show that appeals to a wide ranging audience.


© Serena Fenwick