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Your Reaction: What did you think of Puccini's La bohème?

Audience responses and press reviews of Richard Jones' hotly-anticipated new Royal Opera production which opened the 2017/18 Season.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

11 September 2017 at 10.43pm | 12 Comments

Press reviews:
Independent ★★★★★
Telegraph ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Express ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
WhatsOnStage ★★★★
Guardian ★★★
Times (£) ★★★
Financial Times ★★★
Arts Desk ★★★
Bachtrack ★★★

What did you think of The Royal Opera's La bohème?

La bohème runs until 10 October 2017. Tickets are still available.

It is a co-production with Teatro Real, Madrid and Lyric Opera of Chicago. It is staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Beth Madison, The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund and The American Friends of Covent Garden.

The opera will be relayed live to cinemas around the world on 3 October 2017. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

11 September 2017 at 10.43pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Richard Jones, La bohème, Production, Puccini, review, your reaction

This article has 12 comments

  1. Michael de Navarro responded on 11 September 2017 at 11:01pm Reply

    I am a veteran of the previous classic production which I saw in its first and penultimate runs and several times in between, so I went with some apprehension (previous replacements of classic productions such as Don Carlo and Tosca have not quite done it for me). This one did. I liked the sets and it was very well sung and, of course, beautifully played but the key was that the cast were all utterly believable as people. Whilst it is invidious to single one singer out from an excellent cast, i found Nicole Car very moving - up there with Cotrubas here and Scherbachenko at Glyndebourne. Thank you, Richard Jones and ROH

  2. Stephen Jay-Taylor responded on 12 September 2017 at 3:01am Reply

    The outer acts set in the attic look like a touring production of "Oklahoma!" sponsored by IKEA, all blond wood, ridiculously brightly lit, and so shallow and squat in design that the cast have nowhere even to stand (let alone sleep four) other than to line up at the front, where they still can't be seen by anyone in the upper reaches of the house because of the set's low cluster of beams. Act Two's three sets - to, at, and from the Café Momus - are so clunkily manoeuvred by armies of visible stage hands and electricians behind clutching bundles of cables that it looks amateurishly comical (perhaps the intention?). And the rather faltering progress upstage of the bar at the Barriere d'enfer during the quartet is bizarrely distracting.

    Musically it's pretty strong, though Fabiano avoids trouble by taking his Act One aria down a tone, and takes the lower option at the act end, leaving Car to sing a very screechy and snatched-at C indeed. Not a patch on the last revival with Netrebko and Calleja in 2015, alas.

  3. Peter Lewis responded on 12 September 2017 at 8:26am Reply

    As I tweeted last night, I enjoyed the freshness of these youngish singers who made for an enjoyable evening. The production was generally fine though it seems most of the set and production budget went in the 20 minute second act. Seeing scenes moving around like that is technically impressive though visually not so.
    As for the snow which continually fell, I wouldn't want to be the person who swept that up every night!!

  4. Nellie Schepers responded on 12 September 2017 at 9:33am Reply

    Nice and glad to read all these reviews. Can't visit Londen but very lokking forward to the live broadcasting on oktober 3th,

  5. Nellie, I do believe you just reviewed the reviews!

  6. Brendan Quinn responded on 13 September 2017 at 8:05am Reply

    Difficult to replace a timeless masterpiece (the previous production) so always a tough call. You have to ask what have we gained from this new production? it seems whilst this one is acceptable, we have not actually gained a lot. This always raises the issue of, Why bother when resources could go into something else. The old production would have continued to fill the house such is the allure of Boheme. It is a question of using resources effectively, I question that this fine new production that was not needed does that.

  7. Difficult one. I loved the previous production and saw it a number of times. It was always magical and captured the essence of the piece. This new production, singers and orchestra aside, was fascinating because, from where I sat, so many of the 'workings' were visible and that was in danger of ruining the illusion. But strangely, for me anyway, it didn't. The sight of men with earpieces rolling sets around was odd but act 2 was vibrant with some clever ideas and the overall evening was satisfying visually. The cast were very good, some excellent, and of course the orchestra were superb under Pappano. I know this score well and there were nuances that he found that made it come alive again for me. It was an enjoyable evening.

  8. Samuel responded on 16 September 2017 at 7:02pm Reply

    Hugely disappointing. Whilst the singing was very good, the staging is beyond awful. Ugly, clumsy and clunky set design which is totally impractical and ruins the overall performance. I really can't believe they got rid of the superb Copley production for this hideously designed IKEA inspired substitute. Such a wasted opportunity.

  9. John Rose responded on 16 September 2017 at 9:34pm Reply

    Production OK.. Inoffensive .Acts 2 and 3 the best.
    Singing good to very good
    But after more than 50 years of opera going I've not heard more nuanced or alert Puccini interpretation and playing from this wonderful orchestra and conductor. Quite outstanding!

  10. Margaret P responded on 16 September 2017 at 9:58pm Reply

    Never having seen the previous production I am very interested to read the comments of people who have seen both. The performances today were wonderful but I felt the very 'tight' staging at times detracted from the performances with particular reference to the Cafe Momus scene. Musetta's moment in the spotlight was somewhat overshadowed by the very busy set behind. Still a very enjoyable afternoon, thank you.

  11. John Rose responded on 18 September 2017 at 9:29am Reply

    As a follow-up to last Saturday's brilliant performance, I notice that Pappano is conducting Mahler 2 in Bucharest this coming Friday evening...and then another Boheme at ROH mid-day on Saturday,little more than 12 hours later (allowing for a time difference)!! I wonder if he will be as energised then as he was two days ago? Or will they have a robot apparently happened recently at a concert in Italy!....

  12. David O'Brien responded on 18 September 2017 at 9:40am Reply

    The genius of Richard Jones is his ability to draw such incredible acting from the singers. "Suor Angelica "was almost unbearably moving thanks to his detailed work with the actors, and this "Boheme" is too. The casting is as near to ideal as you can wish for ,when acting is given such a huge priority in the operatic balance. I know the opera very well, so do not expect to be moved, but Nicole Car had my eyes welling up almost from the beginning and throughout the afternoon.(Midday is an unkind time for both the cast and audience for a performance like this, which made her achievement all the more remarkable). For once we really could believe these young relationships. Of course, musically, the performance was special.. Pappano is truly magnificent making the score breathe afresh. Both Fabiano and Kwecien sing and act superbly, I am sure this will come over brilliantly in the Screening later this month. But ooh dear, those shaky sets! The slamming of door when kicking Benoit out nearly brought the wall down. Having got the stove hot enough for smoke to come out the chimney (nice touch) no one would be able to touch the flue- but they do without being burned .. .a miracle ! And resting Mimi's pillow on the stove is a major fire- hazard that even in those pre -health and safety awareness days would never happen. And I have never seen so many straight lines since the old Doyly Carte days.. people just do not stand in straight lines! Oh dear! It is this kind of lack of logic that will make repeated visits harder to cope with, especially when new casts lose the wonderful detailed character work currently on display that transcends this performance.

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