Tragic Opera Night: La Boheme

Written by Syed Ali

On the last week of October, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts presented the famed opera: La Bohèmecomposed by Giacomo Puccini. The opera and scene moved the audience to tears with its storytelling and music.

The stage held the orchestra underneath and the cast above, with stage props and lighting complementing the drama invoked by the music. The playful use of props made the opera feel more lifelike, especially in the beginning where Rodolfo and his friends (some of the main characters) casually swapped their red blanket and chairs. The characters relationships were portrayed from their singing and physical interactions; their expressions, movement, and voice inflection showed how they felt.

The set created a world unique from the orchestra and singing. The buildings, furniture, and falling snow created a microcosm within Paris. The lives of the main characters were the focus of this world, but other characters lived in it too, and they were as just as alive/real as Rodolfo or Mimi. In Act 1, the homely scene with Rodolfo and Marcello felt warm because of the small prop house and quilt-like furniture. The snow falling behind the house created an even more intense feel, establishing the peaceful relationship between the characters and their environment. The beginning scene helped create a strong relationship between Rodolfo and Marcello, as well as their bond with their two roommates Colline and Schaunard.

Visual elements also created unique atmospheres. Environments and props changed how people sang and what they said to each other. In Act 2, much was going on at the same time; children and adults flooded the scene that had markets and a library. The chaotic atmosphere and bountiful activity made everyone address each other with more force and energy. The singing and orchestra is similar to that of Act 3 as well; here, the scene ends in an argument between Musetta and Marcello. In direct contrast, the last scene in Act 4 involved everyone huddled back into Rodolfo’s house, comforting Mimi. The singing and orchestra shifted to a soft tone. The visual elements complimented the audio/orchestral aspects, but both were individual in their influence.

Ultimately, the opera was a fantastic experience that shifted between tones and genuinely moved me at the end. The music and the mourning in the final act felt real yet grandiose in the big picture. Both the visual keys, such as the props and environment, worked with the audio elements to create a wonderful experience.

Entrance to the theater

Photos by Syed Ali

 

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