Giacomo Puccini’s beloved “La Bohème,” with its lyrically wealthy and deftly written rating, has the makings of a surefire opera. But the music is filled with traps for a conductor, particularly in relation to pacing and rhythmic freedom; give singers an excessive amount of expressive leeway, and issues can simply flip flaccid.
Even in a good efficiency of this well-known staple, it’s arduous for a conductor’s work to face out in opposition to the singers’ voices, which often declare our consideration. However on Tuesday, when “Bohème” returned to the Metropolitan Opera — in Franco Zeffirelli’s enduringly common manufacturing, and with an interesting solid in place — the star of the night was the conductor, Eun Solar Kim, in her Met debut.
Final month, Kim made history on the San Francisco Opera as the primary lady music director of a main American opera firm. And on the Met this week, she did the job with musicianly care, assured technical command, subtlety and creativeness. It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard Puccini’s rating so freshly performed.
On one degree, Kim’s achievement was all within the particulars. From the opening measures of Act I, set in a cramped garret shared by the story’s struggling artists, Kim took a vibrant tempo held simply sufficient in verify to permit for the crisp execution of dotted-note rhythmic figures, sputtering riffs and emphatic syncopations. In the enjoying she drew from the orchestra, which sounded alert and at its greatest, she teased out distinct thematic threads whereas letting skittish, colourful prospers work their magic after which waft away.
Tuesday night’s Rodolfo, the tenor Charles Castronovo, who sang with beefy sound and a contact of impetuousness, clearly likes to take ample time to ship ardent melodic phrases. Kim gave him respiration room. But she confirmed that even whereas following a singer sensitively, a conductor can subtly nudge him alongside so a line doesn’t go slack.
She was equally alert to the traits of Anita Hartig, as Mimì, a soprano whose vibrant voice, even when high-lying phrases had metallic glint, got here throughout with tremulous, affecting vulnerability. Hartig introduced a conversational stream to the aria “Mi chiamano Mimì,” stretching one phrase to specific a bashful, intimate feeling and barely dashing one other to convey nervousness. Kim stored the orchestra along with her each second, and all the scene round that aria — the awkward, nervous exchanges between Rodolfo and Mimì as they first meet — had form and drive.
Kim’s manner of conveying the structural parts of the rating — which isn’t simply a collection of dramatic scenes however, in Puccini’s hand, a composition with an total type — was simply as vital as her consideration to particulars. Her work in Act III, the emotional core of the opera, was exceptionally superb. Mimì seeks out Rodolfo’s pal Marcello (the robust-voiced baritone Artur Rucinski) on the tavern the place he and Musetta (Federica Lombardi, a vivacious soprano) at the moment are residing, to share her despair over Rodolfo’s fixed jealousy. The singers had been intense of their backwards and forwards, however the lengthy, arching melodic strains that maintain this scene collectively are within the orchestra, and Kim introduced them out with tautness and full-bodied sound.
The entire solid was sturdy, together with the agency but heat bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee as Colline and the youthful, spirited baritone Alexander Birch Elliott as Schaunard. There are 14 extra performances of “Bohème” this season. The good information is that for all however 4 of them, Kim will probably be within the pit.
By way of Could 27 on the Metropolitan Opera, Manhattan; metopera.org.
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