La Bohème (Kizart)

Giacomo Puccini La Bohème opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2011 by Gale Edwards at the Sydney Opera House. Stars Ji-Min Park, Takesha Meshé Kizart, José Carbó, Taryn Fiebig, David Parkin, Shane Lowrencev, John Bolton Wood,  Adrian Tamburini, Benjamin Rasheed, Malcolm Ede, and Clifford Plumpton. Shao-Chia Lü conducts the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (Associate Concertmaster Huy-Nguyen Bui) and the Opera Australia Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Set design by Brian Thomson; costume design by Julie Lynch; lighting design by John Rayment; assistant direction by Matthew Barclay. Directed for TV by Cameron Kirkpatrick; audio direction by Tony David Cray; produced by Chris Yates and Sam Russell. Released in 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B

Anyone who brings out a La Bohème now in HDVD is swimming upstream against a Niagra of competition. So I was surprised that upstart Opera Australia would be so audacious. To their credit, subject title is better than the La Bohème HDVDs from the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera.  Gale Edwards has turned out the best show offered by the Commonwealth countries. But subject title is clearly a notch below the Robert Dornhelm movie versions of this popular work (published by Axiom in Europe and Kultur in the U.S.) and a big notch below the Giancarlo del Monaco version from Teatro Real published by Opus Arte.

Derek Greten-Harrison reviews this Opera Australia show favorably in the June 2012 Opera News (page 60). He was gentle with the singers (all decent if none famous), and liked the updated Berlin-in-Weimar-Republic mise-en-scène. Derek also praises subject disc for "inventive camerawork with a richly detailed image."

(In recent years I've read about 100 serious magazine reviews of opera, ballet, and classical music productions. Almost always these titles have been published as HDVD and DVDs simultaneously. Derek is the first reviewer who has stated that he saw the Blu-ray (or HDVD) version of the title!  Congratulations Derek for being the only reviewer I know of who understands what's going on now in the field of fine-arts video. I hope I'm wrong about this, but I suspect you may one of the few reviewers around who has a high-definition TV!)