Monday, August 4, 2014

La bohème by Opera Theater of Connecticut in Clinton

Maksim Ivanov as Marcello, Lisa Williamson as Musetta, 
Shannon Kessler Dooley as Mimi, and Joshua Kohl as Rodolfo
photo by Alan Casavant 

Nothing is more refreshing than snow in August--even when that snow is made by machine during Act III of La bohème. The opportunity to hear this ever-popular Puccini masterpiece given by a trustworthy local opera company is at hand for all within commuting distance of Clinton, Connecticut this week. The opera will be given on Tuesday, August 5, Thursday, August 7 and Saturday, August 9 at 7:30pm and Sunday, August 10 at 6pm at the Andrews Memorial Theater on 54 East Main Street.

I had the opportunity to hear the dress rehearsal on Sunday evening. It was a pleasure to attend this event, where so much came together and where refinements were made on the fly. One cannot review a dress rehearsal because there is still time for changes prior to opening night. But a few words will serve in anticipation.  

General Director Kate Ford, and Opera Theater of Connecticut’s artistic team of Production Director Alan Mann and Music Director Kyle Swann have put together a very effective cast ensemble, and they are on display in an extremely fluid second act. The chorus and children's chorus were both impressive and well-balanced, and the stage action was detailed and entertaining throughout the entire act. 

Lisa Williamson impressed as Musetta. She delivered lines with rhythmically precise diction and created a wide range of expression within the part. Shannon Kessler Dooley as Mimì, and Joshua Kohl as Rodolfo both had big voices that could soar over the orchestra and were at their best when they were able to plant and let their sound resonate. Their duet at the close of Act I was amazing.

The cast also featured Maksìm Ivanov as Marcello, Ryan Burns as Schaunard, and Aaron Sorensen as Colline who sang a darkly warm "Vecchia zimarra." Laurentiu Rotaru was clever and entertaining in both roles he covered: Benoît the landlord and Alcindoro the unfortunate lover of Musetta who gets stuck with the bill for act II.

Conductor Kyle Swann had the orchestra sounding quite good, and this production is sure to please on opening night.

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