Puccini’s “La Bohème” is one of the world’s most popular operas and Lyric Opera of Chicago currently has a splendid production that treats doomed love with great tenderness.
The star power of Anna Netrebko as Mimi has filled seats, but she also fills hearts with her stunning vocal ability, combined with deft and convincing acting. Her voice is sweet and compelling, even in the most feathery soft moments.
She is paired with Joseph Calleja as Rodolfo. Calleja offers a sturdy yet flexible sound and knows how to project the character’s hopefulness as well as his despair.
Lucas Meachem is a creditable Marcello, although at times he lets his voice fall below an audible level. Elizabeth Futral’s Musetta is mostly pleasant in spite of a jarringly wide vibrato.
Andrea Silvestrelli is a marvelous Colline and Ryan Center baritone Joseph Lim is an engaging Schaunard.
Emmanuel Villaume conducts with flair and knows where all the laughs and all the tears are. The chorus not only fills the stage with their joyful Christmas presence, but fills the air with charming sound. Ditto for the Chicago Children’s Choir.
The staging is mostly unobjectionable, but also unexciting. That the garrot takes up such a small part of the stage means that all scenes there are rather cluttered and crowded. Act III’s snowscape is beautifully done and will make you dive for your gloves, the chill seems so real.