LA BOHEME by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Robert McQueen, conducted by David T. Heusel, with Bülent Külekçi, Elena Kelessidi, Gabriele Viviani, Krisztina Szabó, Peter McGillivray and Robet Gleadow. Presented by the Canadian Opera Company at the Hummingbird Centre (1 Front East). February 4, 10 and 12 at 7:30 pm, matinee February 6 at 2 pm. $40-$175, some student/ youth discounts. 416-872-2262. Rating: NN Rating: NN
You know when someone onstage starts coughing in the first act of an opera that there's not gonna be a happy ending.
Consumption took its toll on 19th-century opera heroines, and at the top of the list - along with La Traviata's Violetta - is La Bohème 's Mimi, a seamstress for whom love can't save the day.
Elena Kelessidi , Mimi in the Canadian Opera Company 's production of this tuneful work, is one of the strengths of the show, with a variety of colours in her voice and shades in her acting.
Too bad her partner, tenor Bülent Külekçi as Rodolfo, doesn't match her work; he's generic in his singing and character work. He alternates in the role with Bülent Bezduz .
The vocal work is good enough throughout, and the other bohemian artists in the Latin Quarter of 1830s Paris - played by Gabriele Viviani , Robert Gleadow and Peter McGillivray - are nicely individualized under Robert McQueen 's direction.
The standout, though, in a piece whose story is driven as much by jealousy as love, is Krisztina Szabó 's flirtatious, sensual Musetta.
It's hard not to steal a scene when you've wearing a flaming red dress in the middle of a drably dressed ensemble, but Szabó has other means to light up every scene in which she appears.
What the production lacks, though, is the magic to make it memorable. David T. Heusel 's conducting is workmanlike but not special, and McQueen fails to make us care about these characters who alternate between loving and quarelling. It's Puccini who causes a catch in the throat at the ending, even if this staging of the tragic love story isn't dramatically convincing.