Miller’s Bohème: a lofty peak for ENO
29 November, 2018 — By Sebastian Taylor
Jonathan Tetelman and Natalya Romaniw in ENO’s revival of La Bohème. Photo: Robert Workman
It’s turned out to be a great autumn season for English National Opera at the London Coliseum.
Admittedly, things got off to a shaky start with a weak production of Richard Strauss’s Salome. But things got decidedly better with a splendid staging of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in a co-production with the New York Met.
Things got even better with the revival of David Alden’s powerful production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Sarah Tynan just fantastic in the title role. There are two further Lucia performances – November 30 and December 5.
Fourthly, and somewhat surprisingly, Daniel Kramer’s staging of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem won plaudits all round, particularly for the singing and orchestral music. The last performance is next Friday (December 7).
And now, to round off the ENO’s great autumn season, we’ve got Jonathan Miller’s classic La Bohème back again for its fifth revival, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ENO debut.
Both production and singing are utterly convincing. The staging is re-located to inter-war Paris, the garret is raised a floor above the stage and you can almost smell the aroma of French cigarettes emanating from Momo’s café.
American tenor Jonathan Tetelman is a powerful Rodolfo, perhaps too powerful in the first act, which should belong to Mimi.
Welsh and wonderful soprano Natalya Romaniw gets off to a weak start as Mimi. But she gets into her stride in the second act – and she’s magnificent in the great third act duet and quartet.
Other soloists are really quite excellent, especially Nadine Benjamin singing a mercurial Musetta.
Conductor Alexander Joel works the Puccini magic throughout, making the most of the thunderous brass interjections. And it all comes together in Mimi’s absolutely fantastic death, not a dry eye in the house, that’s for sure.
• ENO’s La Bohème is at the London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2. Twelve more performances till February 22. 020 7845 9300, www.eno.org