La Boheme happens to be playing my second night in Verona.
The goal of my blog is to hear 101 distinct operas. I will not count different productions of the same opera toward the goal, but I will see different productions and use them to learn more about this thing called opera.
I learn a lot about artistic interpretation this evening. The plot and songs might be the same as the La Boheme I saw in New York last year, but the experience is totally different, for instance there are no horses and the orchestra sounds more forward than the vocals.
Every opera performance I learn is a singular unrepeatable experience. From night to night and production to production things like tempo, acoustics, vocal style, wardrobe, and set design might be different; and there are other intangibles like who you go with and where you sit that will make a difference. Especially if it’s a marble seat in a 2,000 year old amphitheater with the aroma of candles on an Italian summer wind.
The next morning I rent a moped and hit the road to see Tuscany. A petrol station sits at the edge of an ochre colored city and as I pass, I push the throttle forward and in a blur the cyprus trees merge with the blue sky. I feel like I’m moving through a painting by the Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla as bugs start splattering my helmet. The speedometer shows a whopping 75 miles per hour. I am a fearless daredevil willing to risk life and limb for a thrill!
Despite my speed though, inexplicably a line of cars begins to stack up behind me. They honk their horns (a little quackier in Europe than home). I think these Italians must be crazy, if I go any faster I’m going to go back in time…
This is when I realize that I’m still reading the speedometer like I’m back home. In Europe they go by kilometers-per-hour, not miles. This stack of cars now I instantly understand.
“Cattivo pilota Paz our americano si sposta.”
La Boheme begins with a group of artists trying to survive a winter in Paris. It opens with Marcello burning his own play for warmth and they all sustain themselves on the small pleasures of life. Rudolfo falls in love with Mimi and we follow the two’s relationship with their friends and each other through affection and jealousy.
Notes on the production
Rodolfo ……………. Marcelo Alvarez
Musetta ……….…..Donata d’ Annunzio
Arena di Verona