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La Boheme

Opera North

The Lowry

Teddy boys, bouncers, motorbikes and a drag Marilyn Monroe are all part of Phyllida Lloyd's probing production for Opera North of Puccini's much-loved 'La Boheme' at The Lowry.

The action is updated to the 1950s and refuses to romanticize the student's down-and-out existence and the dynamics of their various relationships.

Musically the outstanding protagonists are in the pit where the splendid orchestra of Opera North is superbly conducted by their music director Richard Farnes. He directs a trenchant performance, passionate in its symphonic sweep, minutely attentive to detail and acutely attuned to his singers.

Anne Sophie Duprels is a touchingly vulnerable Mimi culminating in a particularly affecting death scene. The handsome Bulent Bezduz, though at times a vocally underpowered Rodolfo, inhabits the character's deepening emotions as the relationship with Mimi unfolds so that his anguish at her death is chillingly immediate.

Sarah Fox's subtle but feisty Musetta is partnered by Marcin Bronikowski's vibrant and passionate Marcello. Quirijn de Lang's arresting portrayal of the musician Schaunard and Frederic Bourreau's resonant and caring Colline complete the responsive cast in which ensemble, both musical and dramatic, is outstanding and the result is a vivid renewal of Puccini's masterpiece.

Ken Bayliss