From the Latin Quarter of 1830 Paris in which Giacomo Puccini sets the La bohème, to the periphery of any big city. The Catalan stage director Àlex Ollé, a member of La Fura dels Baus, brings the action of the popular opera back to the present day in a spectacular staging premiered in 2016 at the Teatro Regio in Turin to celebrate 120 years since the premiere of the classic Puccini, which It took place on February 1, 1898 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. After passing through Edinburgh and Rome, Ollé’s rereading reaches the Gran Teatre del Liceu with 15 performances scheduled from June 14 to July 2 under the baton of Gianpaolo Bisanti.
“It is a contemporary vision, but faithful to the emotions and spirit of youth that Puccini portrays so brilliantly,” said a smiling Aléx Ollé at a press conference this afternoon, via videoconference from Japan, which on July 3 will premiere in the New National Theater in Tokyo a new production of Carmenby Bizet. “They have advanced my trip to fulfill my quarantine before rehearsals, and I will not be able to be at the Lyceum. But everything is in good hands, because Susana Gómez, co-director of the show, knows him by heart ”, he points out.
A gigantic scenography by Alfons Flores recreates a block of flats. There, between hardships, live the poet Rodolfo (who writes on a computer), the painter Marcello, the musician Schaunard and the philosopher Colline, the protagonists along with Mimì and Musetta de las Scenes of bohemian life, a novel by Henri Murger that inspires the opera libretto, signed by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica.
Montmatre, very expensive
“All the outskirts of big cities are very similar and many young artists live in them who do not have money. We were not going to do La bohème in a loft in Montmartre, which is very expensive. An artist can only live there if he is rich ”, says Ollé wryly. “In some way, our staging returns its essence to the Scenes of bohemian life”.
Speaking of La bohème, Ollé points out that it is the opera of small and everyday things. “There are no great stories, no great characters, but a group of young people who infect you with the joy of youth. All this joy ends with the death of Mimì, which means the end of youth. Somehow, all of us have died a Mimì in our arms ”.
The mass scenes of the second act at the Café Momus, with soloists, choirs and extras filling the stage, have forced the measures of distance and security to be extreme at the Lyceum, which for the first time in times of pandemic, will have on its stage a children’s choir. “Everyone has been very responsible and it has been relatively easy to put together the revival of this work at the moment“, explains Susana Gómez.
With this assembly, the Italian conductor Gianpaolo Bisanti returns to the Barcelona pit, who confesses to being in love with Puccini. “I have it in my heart since I was a child and it has played a very important role in my career. It is a perfect opera. It uses an artisanal code in the score, with themes linked to the characters and reworked in different ways that appear throughout the entire opera in such a natural way that the viewer does not perceive it ”.
The sopranos Anita Hartig, Maria Teresa Leva and Adriana González alternate in the role of Mimì in the three casts offered by the coliseum. The tenors Atalla Ayan, Giorgio Berrugi play Rodolfo and the sopranos Valentina Nafornita and Katerina Tretyakova give life to Musetta; The cast is completed by the baritones Roberto de Candia and Damián del Castillo in the role of Marcello, the also baritones Toni Marsol and Josep-Ramon Olivé as Schaunard and the basses Goderdzi Janelidze and Federico de Michelis in the role of Colline.