"La Boheme" is a story filled with romance and love, interwoven throughout the comedy that permeates the plot.
It was the perfect choice for L.A. Opera to produce for its 2011-2012 season finale, which took place May 31 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where both soprano Ailyn Pérez and tenor Stephen Costello stunned the audience in all four acts.
The story takes us to late December, around the holiday time in Paris, France, when Rodolfo (Costello), a bohemian poet, and his friends, including the painter Marcello (Artur Rucinski), are in the midsts of, well, growing up to be adults. At the beginning, Rodolfo seems to be going through struggles, which any writer sporadically experiences. But then there is a knock at the door --one that changes his destiny forever. It is Lucia (Pérez), better known as Mimi, a seamstress who dazzles in beauty, nobility and charm.
From start to finish, Marcello, Rodolfo and Musetta (Valentina Fleer) excel in their roles. Their opera singing is marvelous - almost to a degree of perfection (since nothing and nobody in life is perfect). In addition, Pérez - a Mexican-American and 2012's winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award - reaches a certain level of astonishing. She is, to some extent, the highlight of "La Boheme."
Rodolfo and Mimi's love story indulges our internal hopeless romantic, but there is more to this opera than that; it is angelical, divine and resplendent. Their relationship on-set reaches a profound connection, one that is nearly impossible to describe: They are in love with one another.
Mimi's illness breaks them apart eventually, but the sorrow of it all seems to not destroy what they had --it is alive in spirit, through the air, inside an unbroken circle and on top of all tragedy.
Oh, and get this: Costello and Pérez are real-life husband and wife, which explains their incredibly believable on-stage chemistry!