Each year in Torre del Lago, the location where Puccini composed his most famous operas, there is a Puccini Festival. The best of the best come here to perform the master’s operas. As such it is not surprising and yet still a treat to have one of Italy’s most famous directors, Ettore Scola, agree to attend and direct a staging of La Bohème.
It is a bittersweet story involving the tragic lovers, Mimi and Rodolfo. Mimi is a young and poor seamstress. Rodolfo loves her. They are money poor but love rich. That does not help them much when Mimi is struck with tuberculosis. Rodolfo, a poet, cannot scrape together the money required to buy her the medicine that will save her life. To spare themselves the pain of being separated by death, Mimi and Rodolfo decide to part. The end is coming for Mimi and she decides she wants to be with Rodolfo as she draws her last breath. Not known to either of the lovers is that friends of Rodolfo’s have come up with the money for the medicine. But will it be too late?
Scola has put his own stamp on the oft staged opera. His is a lavish looking and yet traditional La Bohème. The production is of very high quality. This haute calibre is aided by a very talented cast that includes Daniela Dessi (Mimi), Fabio Armiliato (Rodolfo), Alessandro Luongo (Marcello), Frederico Longhi (Schaunard) and Alida Berti (Musetta). Rounding out all this talent is that of set designer Luciano Ricceri. He ingeniously created a three story building that rotates and becomes the young peoples’ workshop, a tavern and a café. The large structure also had the effect of making the vocals that much more resounding.