Puccini’s timeless opera about young artists struggling to succeed in life and love was affectionately re-created in Wolf Trap Opera’s vibrant and devoted one-night performance of “La Bohème” at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on Friday evening.
With multiple screens serving as backdrops, director Paul Curran’s innovative production set Puccini’s 19th-century opera in post-World War I Paris. Coupled with stark sets and colorful period costumes, the black-and-white video projections of rooftops evoked wintertime in the City of Light.
Buoyed by the National Symphony Orchestra seated upstage, a sparkling up-and-coming cast and company dived into Puccini’s score with enthusiasm. D’Ana Lombard’s Mimi was hauntingly expressive, her fluid soprano sending arias and duets forth poignantly. Playing her lover Rodolfo, Yongzhao Yu sang sweetly and was more convincing as a grief-stricken ex than as the wooer. Summer Hassan portrayed the sassy Musetta with a comic feistiness that was challenged by Reginald Smith Jr.’s playful and righteous Marcello. His resounding bass and all-star acting grounded the cast throughout. Shea Owens’s Schaunard and Timothy Bruno’s Colline rounded out the hilarious quartet of friends who provided comic relief with split-second accuracy but who also showed moving devotion toward each other in the scenes leading to the opera’s inevitable conclusion.
Under guest conductor Grant Gershon’s baton, the NSO remained a spry partner and driving force behind this gem of a production. This “Bohème,” with its thoughtful and faithful artistic touches, is a strong argument for the return of the Wolf Trap Opera to a larger scale and a place on the Filene Center’s summer schedule.
and company dived
into Puccini’s score