Giacomo Puccini, PUCCINI: La Boheme (Highlights)

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
You’ll want to own, not Rent, this classic opera.

This perennial favorite was the basis for the musical Rent, with the heroine's fatal consumption transposed into AIDS and the starving artists sharing a pad reworked as — well, some things haven't changed. From the ornate amorous permutations that marked opera plots through Verdi, Puccini pared his story down to a simple and wonderfully affecting tale: boy meets, loves and loses girl. Full of atmosphere, evoking memorably not just the characters 'inner lives and outer conflicts but their colorful milieu as well, Puccini's buoyant yet bittersweet score — given a sensitive performance, of course — tugs the heartstrings like no other. Slancio is the term Italians use for a sort of breathless, forward-surging passion, and it's exactly the term that springs to mind with this performance.