Friday, November 15, 2013


Natalie Aroyan (Mimi), Garrett Sorenson (Rodolfo(
Adrian Tamburini (Colline), Jose Carbo (Marcello) 
James Clayton (Schaunard)

West Australian Opera

His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth

29th October – 9th November 2013

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

This production of “La Boheme” is the familiar Opera Conference production, with sets and costumes by Stephen Curtis, and original direction by Simon Phillips. It had several seasons at The Sydney Opera house until it was eventually replaced by the lavish new current production directed by Gale Edwards.

For this outing by West Australian Opera, the production has been meticulously rehearsed by Cath Dadd and presented with a fine cast, lead by American tenor, Garrett Sorenson, as Rodolfo, and Natalie Aroyan as Mimi, with Jose Carbo ( Marcello), James Clayton ( Schaunard), Adrian Tamburini  (Colline) and Rachel Durkin, outstanding as Musetta.

Simon Phillips' vision for this production has the action taking place in the present, and for the most part this works extremely well, but some jarring aspects still remain. Rodolfo’s use of a laptop for his writing makes the sacrifice of his manuscripts as fuel for the fire to warm his friends, a less noble gesture, as he has no doubt backed up his writings in his computer. While the moment when the set rises mid-aria to make way for the admittedly spectacular act two transition into Paddy’s Market, still jars, as does Mimi’s rather uncomfortable death propped up in a bean-bag.  

However these quibbles are more than compensated by the vitality of the Café Momus (Paddy’s Market) scene, and the realism of the early morning act three scene with its over-flowing wheelie bins of garbage, and the total commitment of each cast member towards bringing each scene to vibrant life.  

From their very opening notes, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Joseph Colaneri, sounded confident and secure, beautifully delineating the musical allusions which are such a notable feature this score, and bringing admirable drama and passion to the music, adding significantly to the pleasure of the carefully detailed direction.

Garrett Sorenson (Rodolfo) Natalie Aroyan (Mimi)
Garrett Sorenson was a likeable and passionate Rodolfo, with a glowing tenor voice, but with a rather disconcerting tendency to suddenly drop the volume of his singing at various times throughout the opera.

Natalie Aroyan offered a superbly sung, if somewhat tentatively acted, Mimi, while Jose Carbo, James Clayton and Adrian Tamburini, as Rodolfo’s three friends, each provided beautifully sung, energetic and thoughtfully detailed interpretations. Andrew Foote had two opportunities to shine, and he did, delightfully, as the landlord Benoit, and later as Musetta’s unfortunate cuckold, Alcindoro. 

But it's Rachel Durkin’s wonderfully idiosyncratic performance as Musetta, which deservedly steals the show. Durkin is a marvellous comedienne, blessed with a tall, thin, fashion-model’s physique, which she utilises outrageously to create a glamorous, wilful, cheeky, genuinely funny Musetta who is absolutely memorable. At the same time she negotiates the intricacies of Musetta’s famous Café Momus aria with apparently effortless panache.  Musetta’s lovemaking with Marcello later is equally funny, but then in the final scene, the warmth and concern she displays for her dying friend, Mimi and her companions, is completely believable and affecting. 
Rachel Durkin (Musetta) 

Durkin's captivating performance as Musetta, was just one of many such highlights which contributed to a very satisfying evening of opera.




Natalie Aroyan (Mimi), Jose Carbo (Marcello)
James Clayton (Schaunard), Adrian Tamburini (Colline)
Garrett Sorenson (Rodolfo)
                                                   Photos: James Rogers






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