Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Menage à Bohème, Los Angeles Opera

I saw La Bohème on Friday night with Roberto Alagna and his wife. He was very good, except for a little problem with the high C in “Che Gelida Manina”. He didn’t crack or miss the note; it just came out kind of thin. It didn’t even seem quite like a note, and it wasn’t particularly ugly or at all beautiful; it was just a sound. Alagna’s a good actor, and he’s incredibly good-looking, but it’s a showy handsomeness. He’s 41, but he looks like he’s in his mid-30s, and he’s got long, dark eyelashes, gorgeous, long-fingered hands, and soft-looking, wavy, brown-sugar-colored hair.

Alagna is very good at portraying one strong emotion at a time, but without any layering to it; in that way, I guess maybe he’s more like an operatic actor than a stage or film actor. His acting is very visceral. Keenlyside’s (warning: I’ll probably never shut up about him) acting comes from within him, also from his body, but from his soul too. Alagna’s responses are immediate and almost immature, but this isn’t a bad thing as Rodolfo, and even in many other tenor roles. His voice is very beautiful to me in the middle range, rounded and full and sweet. I’m strange though in that I don’t care much for tenor high notes; I like the mid-range of the tenor voice and I love the high notes of baritones. I can’t really say much about the rest of the production, because I was watching Alagna through my binoculars the whole time. Gheorghiu was OK; she sounded just like she does on the Bohème recording I have with her as Mimi.

The rest of the cast was pretty blah. Alfredo Daza as Marcello looked like a cross between Desi Arnaz and one of Alfred Molina’s greasier incarnations. He was OK acting physically, but he doesn’t act at all with his voice. It’s at the same level all the time, and is always very stiff-sounding. On one of my Bohème recordings, in the scene between Marcello and Mimi, when Mimi is coughing, Simon Keenlyside as Marcello sings “Che tosse!” with such tenderness and compassion. Daza just kind of bellowed “Che tosse!” at her, stiff as a board. Blech.

The people who sit behind us at the opera are Lord and Lady Douchebag. The man taps his feet and kicks the back of my seat constantly, and he has horrible verbal diarrhea. He’s one of those people who don’t have a filter between their brain and their mouth, so he just says whatever he’s thinking out loud, during the opera. In one scene, a line of women wearing white headdresses and making the sign of the cross walked across the stage, and Lord Douchebag said, “Nuns!” Then, during the scene where Rodolfo is telling Marcello how sick Mimi is, he said, “He’s sad.” In Act IV, when Mimi was resting on her death-chaise-longue, he said, “She’s dead!” But then she stood up and walked over to Rodolfo, so he very helpfully said, “No, she isn’t!” And at the end, while the music was still playing, he announced, “That touched me.” Who gives a fuck, jackass? During intermission, my mom and I were totally snarking on Lord and Lady Douchebag. Me: “I’m confused, I couldn’t tell who those women with the white headdresses were.” Mom: “Yeah, and they were making some motion with their arms; what was that about?” Me: “And you know, when Rodolfo was talking about how Mimi was dying, I had NO IDEA how he was feeling." Mom: “I thought he was happy!” Guh. People are such assmunches. I hope Lord Douchebag dies in a ditch with poo on his head. At least when we go back on Tuesday and Friday, he won’t be there.

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