Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ba Loheme

Ever since I can remember, La Boheme has been a part of my life. My earliest memories begin when I was about 8 or 7 and my mother and sisters would sit on the sofa in our living room listening to it play from the Hi Fi. This was one of those reel to reel stereos before cassette players and CD players.

I didn't know the words but I knew the story. And the end always made me cry. Then when I was close to 14 or 15, my sister was listening to the vinyl version of the opera and so I joined her and read through the libretto for the first time. I confiscated the record and kept it in my room and played it over and over and over again. I used to play the 4th act repeatedly because I wanted it to stop hurting so much.

So, about 10 years ago I saw La Boheme for the first time. I was very very nervous about seeing it because there was so much anticipation. What if it didn't deliver the way I always imagined it would be like? Thankfully, it didn't disappoint and I've seen it few more times since.

This evening, my friend John took me and his oldest daughter, Sara, to see La Boheme at Wortham Center. For some reason, it was just off. I'm really very disappointed.

Initially we thought it started at 8. Thankfully we arrived at Will Call at about 7:20 to pick up our tickets; and were immediately greeted by the chimes hastening us to our seats. So, already we were off-kilter.

Then, there were the people in front of us who decided to talk during the performance. I hate it when people do that.

Musetta wasn't right. I think that her entrance and her performance, though lesser than Mimi's, is important and should be done correctly. Her melodies are beautiful. Here they went over the top with her flamboyancy and "loud" behavior. She seemed really shrill and not attractive. Her personna didn't match the delivery of her lines.

Then of course, there was the woman a few seats down and in front of me that felt the need to unwrap candy. There is no excuse for this. If you bring candy to the opera because you think you might want to eat some, unwrap it BEFORE the performance begins. It's not that difficult, really. The people around you do not want hear you unwrap the candy and then listen to you try to decide what you want to do with the little plastic wrapper when you're done. During the 4th act, this woman proceeded to eat a pear. WTF? No, I didn't hear her eating it, I saw it.

About 2 weeks ago, John and I went with friends to see Tosca at Opera in the Heights. There was a woman there who had an entire bag of wrapped candies in her lap and during the first act proceeded to unwrap several. It was horrible. It was so bad it was comical and both myself and my friend were desparately trying to stifle our laughter.

The ecoustics were off. When performing at the opera, there are no microphones so the audience relies on the performers ability to project their voices in order for us to be able to hear them. But for some reason, I had trouble hearing Rudolfo, especially at the end when he discovers Mimi is dead. I couldn't hear Schaunard (or was it Colline) tell him to be brave.

A cell phone went off during the first act in the middle Mimi describing her life to Rudolfo. Then during either the 3rd or 4th act some beeping alarm went off and it took at least 30 seconds or so for it's owner to silence it.

During the final lines of the opera, the sur titles projected the words "power off" so there was rumbling in the crowd while Rudolfo was crying Mimi's name. I wasn't paying attention to the sur titles at this point but noticed the audience rumble a little and become restless. It was like a wave. It was after the opera that John told me what he sur titles indicated.

After the performance was over, dozens of people headed for the door during curtain call. I never noticed this before and maybe it's because whenever John and I go to the opera we are usually in the first 7 rows. This time we were 18 back. I could not believe the number of people who rushed to the doors.

I sincerely hope this is not my last memory of La Boheme; I'm afraid it is not a pleasant one.


SunWolf said...

OMG how very sad! You must IMMEDIATELY play the Toscanini recording to bring back the magic. Do this immediately! What an awful experience. I am surprised you didn't cry at the end of the opera just because of your bad experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Met Simulcast of La Boheme and it was excellent. Angela Gheorghiu played Mimi...a bit more coquettishly than I am used to, but I really liked her performance, and yes, there was weeping at the end when Mimi died (guilty). I felt like Muzetta (Ainhoa Arteta?) stole the show during Act II. I absolutely loved the young Italian conductor, Nicola Luisotti, who, when asked how he kept a perenial favorite like La Boheme fresh, responded "I sleep with the orchestra" ...of course he meant to say "I seduce the orchestra." Most charming! Anyway, my prescription is to listen to that wonderful Toscanini recording to get the bad memories from your head. Corragio!

A Girl From Texas said...


Timmy said...

"During the 4th act, this woman proceeded to eat a pear." I had to read this sentence twice.