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Puccini – La Boheme

Garden Opera
Blackheath Halls, London 24 February 2008

Mimi – Anne Bourne
Musetta – Sally-Ann Shepherdson
Rudolfo – Chris Steele
Marcello – Adrian Powter
Schaunard – Adam Miller
Colline – Freddie Tong
Benoit / Alcindoro – Martin Nelson
Music Director – Peter Bridges
Director – Martin Lloyd-Evans
Sets – Neil Irish
Costumes – Dulcie Best

As their name implies, Garden Opera normally stages their performances in the open air, so this was a rare opportunity to see them perform in the rather magnificent setting of Blackheath Halls. 

Neil Irish’s cleverly designed but economical set confined the action to the centre stage, but action there was a plenty in Martin Lloyd-Evans’ lucid reading of the plot.   Amanda Holden’s translation worked well with an updated time period, and the cuts necessitated by the absence of a chorus served to concentrate the dramatic tension and pathos.

The modest chamber orchestra was ample to fill the acoustic with bright sound and was well directed from the piano by Peter Bridges.

The very evenly matched cast of experienced singers, youthful enough for an honest portrayal of their roles, sang and acted with gusto.  

Serena Fenwick

This is a well established company dedicated to introducing opera to a wider public. They have a full schedule up and down the country and an attractive website, with substantial videos of this La Boheme production to enjoy on line. [Editor]