The Clapham Opera Festival is a celebration of stunning classical music and talented musicians and artists, delivered in a way that is both engaging and professional but also intimate and relatable due to two things; the intelligent staging, and the prowess of the carefully selected cast.
Puccini’s much-loved romantic opera La Boheme is staged at the Clapham Church of the Holy Spirit, a beautiful venue where the atmosphere was alive and buzzing on the evening of Friday 20th. The tale of Rudolfo and Mimi has captured the hearts of those who love opera for years – however, the aim of the Clapham Opera Festival is to make opera music accessible and relatable to audience members of all ages and from all backgrounds, which was certainly achieved throughout La Boheme and confirmed with a standing ovation from the audience at the finale.
La Boheme was engaging from the beginning, with accomplished singers Ricardo Panela as baritone, Alice Privett and Katherine Blumenthal on soprano, Nick Dwyer and Alberto Sousa on tenor and Simon Grange on bass.
First performed in 1896 and with many theatrical interpretations staged ever since, it’s easy to sit amongst the audience and feel blasé about knowing the tale well from start to finish – however, the dynamics of this talented cast working together, coupled with the fact that the venue was so intimate and we were literally touching distance away from all the action, felt all the more dramatic and different. It’s worth noting that there were a fair few tears being shed amongst the audience at the more dramatic moments; a beautiful thing to see people being touched by the onstage action.
The talented Nina Brazier certainly deserves extremely positive kudos for her stellar direction, and a particular mention goes to Alice Privett, playing Mimi – a natural and talented young actress, whose name the audience were chattering as they filed out.
The Clapham Opera Festival is a marvellous concept, and I enjoyed the fact that the focus was on it being a ‘sensory experience,’ with treats provided by Ginger Pig, make-up by MAC Cosmetics and perfumery provided by Les Senteurs. I felt this gave proceedings a fun, funky and young feel, further aiding the Opera Festival’s aim of being all-inclusive and appealing to those of all ages.
Hopefully further installations of the Clapham Opera Festival in the future mean that everybody can continue to enjoy the pleasure of being moved by opera music and stunning, intimate performance – La Boheme was a real smash.
Review by Louise Czupich
La Bohème – Fri 20th Nov 7.30pm & Sun 22nd Nov 4.30pm.
The finale for this year’s Festival was Puccini’s much loved La Boheme. Since first performed in 1896, this romantic opera has enchanted many, with it’s story of Rudolfo and Mimi.
Inspired by Henri Murger’s novel Scènes de la vie de bohème and play Le vie de la bohème, Puccini set the opera in 1840s Paris.