La Boheme, Holloway Opera at Stalbridge and touring

FIONA Williams’ production of Puccini’s classic weepy, La Boheme, has been whisked from the garrets of Bohemian Paris and relocated in student bedsit land in Worthing!

The touring Opera Holloway production, brought by Arts­reach to  Stal­bridge village hall, comes complete with a live mini orchestra and surtitles that translate the original Italian libretto for a 21st century audience but remain true to the spirit of the piece.

It is beautifully sung, powerfully acted and cleverly adap­ted,  and delighted the packed audience at Stalbridge, for several of whom this was a first exposure to “live opera.”

Alex Haig, whose plangent tenor is ideally suited to the romantic Rodolfo, also has the rare advantage of height in a tenor.  He was perfectly matched by the determined but sickly Mimi of Callie Gaston. Their chemistry added to the poignancy of the story.

Lorena Paz Nieto brought more than the spirited flirt to her reading of Musetta, with Sam Oram as the blustering but love-lorn Marcello.

Colline and Shaunard are partners in this production, adding a bit of diversity to the story but never letting up on the intense camaraderie of the student quartet. The energetic young cast is completed by Polish baritone Konrad Jaromin, bringing a nice comedy touch to the bleak story.

By the end of the engrossing evening, 150 people in Stalbridge were asking when Opera Holloway would be back as they wiped the tears from their eyes.


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