Center Stage: Bravo to this magical performance
Community Concerts’ second successful program following the dazzling opening concert of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Pinchas Zukerman on Jan. 16 was a sparkling performance of Puccini’s opera La Boheme performed by Teatro Lirico D’Europa.
For those of you who might not be aware of this small and unique opera company, here are some background notes. Teatro Lirico D’Europa was created in 1988 by the late Yves Josse, a former ballet divo and brilliant French arts promoter, and Giorgio Lalov, a young Bulgarian opera singer who made his debut at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, at age 25 while participating in Scala’s famous international training for young singers. The collaboration between Josse and Lalov was a huge success in a very short time, resulting in tours with over 250 performances a season throughout France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Portugal at 180 different venues.
Lalov created the sets and costumes for the productions and organized the chorus and orchestra in Bulgaria, central Europe and the United States. Josse booked the performances from his office in Paris.
From the beginning the company established itself as highly competent, and the unusual multinational chemistry proved to be very popular. Teatro Lirico D’Europa has now completed over 4,000 performances worldwide, including 14 consecutive seasons in the USA. This is the opera company’s 15th season in the US with performances of La Boheme, Carmen and concert performances of great moments in Italian opera from Broadway to opera. Bottom line this is a small but mighty opera company. The company of La Boheme was true to form with an international cast:
Rodolfo Simon Kyung Lee
Mimi – Olga Orlovskaya
Marcello Dobromir Momekov
Musetta — Stanislava Ivanova
Schaunard Krasten Krastanov
Colline – Dimiter Stantchev
Alcindoro/Benoit – Hristo Sarafov
I cannot even imagine what rehearsals are like with an international cast like that. Nevertheless, even if this was a scaled-down version of Puccini’s great opera about talented, broke, starving and dying French artists in 1840s Paris, the opera is still and always will be a paean of amour. Puccini writes love in terms of music that touches and sometimes breaks your heart.
The singing was wonderful, the staging though spare with few people and no children in the crowded city street scenes, a kind of “Reader’s Digest,” or abbreviated version of this great opera. Nevertheless, it all worked, making the Community Concerts’ version of La Boheme as magical as ever.
Nothing can ever top the incredible Puccini score, which always works its enchantment on me; and though it was the very first opera I ever viewed at the Old Metropolitan Opera House at age 8, I wept then as I did last Wednesday night. As a matter of fact, the waterworks start every time (and there have been many) I get to hear this incredible music.
The orchestra and its conductor played richly and fully, the leading artists were quite wonderful as was the singing chorus; as a matter of fact the entire production was an affirmation of the reviews this small but terrific company receives; which state that this is a highly competent company, and the unusual multinational operatic talent along with the chemistry of this talented company has proven to be extremely popular with audiences, both European and American.
If last week’s performance of La Boheme was any example, our Fort Myers audience gave Teatro Lirico D’Europa a four-star standing ovation, to which I can only add Bravo! Yeah! and Hip-Hip Hurray!
The next Community Concerts’ venue is Monday Feb. 23 when the Russian National Ballet Theatre performs Don Quixote (a tour de force ballet if ever there was one). Sometimes single tickets can be ordered by calling the Community Concerts box office at (239) 489-4171, or check fortmyerscommunityconcerts.org.
If you love ballet, this would be one I’d highly recommend. When you phone, remind ’em Marsha sent you.