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HOT: La Boheme, Palace Opera & Ballet, The Barracks Palace Theatre, 61 Petrie Terrace Brisbane

It was a lovely winter’s day, one of those days when you love Brisbane and just want to dance around in the sunshine. So it was with some reluctance that I attended this early afternoon screening of La Boheme at The Barracks Palace Cinemas.

Until 10am that morning, the other half of Brek had thought we were actually attending a live performance of Pucinni’s La Boheme. Gently, I explained to him that we weren’t actually going to see a live opera, but rather a screening of an opera. Sure, there would be a darkened theatre, an audience, and even an intermission – but there won’t be live performers on stage or an orchestra to applaud. Just a movie screen and surround sound.

Despite these inauspicious beginnings, it didn’t take long for the music and the quality of the performance to take hold and draw us in. The atmosphere, of course, is never going to be quite that same as being there, but on the other hand you get to see the highest calibre of performer in one of the best opera theatres in the world. Let’s face it, in Brisbane, we aren’t going to get this lavish a production, with as many top quality chorus members or as opulent sets and costuming, or if we do, it’s a Boondall or Riverside extravaganza where the opera experience is sorely compromised. And certainly, getting to see an opera for a fraction of the usual price is a great attraction.

The idea is to emulate a live performance of the Royal Opera at the Royal Opera House – Covent Garden. It is filmed at a live production, including audio of the audience applause and scheduled intermission.  The camera does not sit still, panning and zooming to focus your attention on the important parts of the more complex scenes. The close-ups let you see details that otherwise wouldn’t be obvious back in row X of an opera theatre; the beads of sweat on Rodolfo’s brow, although slightly at odds with the freezing winter setting, really helped us to engage with the performance. In some ways, this made it a more intense experience than actually being there, particularly for us, as we are usually too cheap or slow to get decent seats at a real opera.

The music of La Boheme is utterly beautiful, with an amazing spine tingling quality. The highlight of this production, though, was the wonderful performances. Male brek thought the stand out was Teodor Ilincai, as the lead tenor who plays Rodolfo. For me, I was fixated on the 2 sopranos – Inna Dukach was sparkling and gorgeous, everything a Musetta should be; Hibla Gerzmava put all she had into her performance as Mimi and was exhausted at the final curtain.

Would a lesser opera have held us so entranced in this format? Difficult to say. We can say, though, that we saw this opera live at the Lyric Theatre some years back, and have very little memory of it. But we will probably remember this screening.

So in summary, it is a HOT, but only if (a) you like operas, and (b) you’re not expecting the same kind of atmosphere you would have in an opera theatre.

More information, including a trailer, can be found at http://www.palaceoperaandballet.com.au/

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  1. I have only heard amazing things about La Boheme. Although I have yet to see this peformance, I have heard lots abouts the beautiful music and overall stunning quality of the piece.

    I will most definetly be getting a ticket and I highly recommend others too also going by what I have heard.

    Thanks for all the information

    Posted by Le nozze di Figaro fan | June 22, 2010, 7:46 pm
  2. You’re welcome! If you do get a chance to see it, we’d be pleased to hear your thoughts about it too.

    Posted by Jetsetting Joyce | June 27, 2010, 12:40 pm

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