6 marzo 2023
by Annalisa Cretella

Zeffirelli, an ageless Bohème

A scene from La Boheme at La Scala
A scene from La Boheme at La Scala

Love by candlelight in a miserable and cold attic, a manuscript that feeds the fire in the fireplace, the charm of the nonconformist and freewheeling lifestyle of poets and writers. Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème, signed by Franco Zeffirelli, comes to life once again at the La Scala Opera House in Milan; opening night on March 4 is sold out, as are 7 more repeat performances.

Unsurprisingly, this the most appropriate opera to honor the great director and set designer Franco Zeffirelli on the centenary of his birth (February 12, 1923), both because it is one of the most beloved by the public and because, as Zeffirelli himself stated in an interview with Sergio Talmon, the staging was certainly “the luckiest” and “greatest success” of his “operatic career.”

Zeffirelli's legendary Bohème, now in its sixtieth year, looks none the worse for the wear and not at all tired. It was 1963 when it was born amidst the purple velvets and golden stuccoes of the La Scala, and Herbert von Karajan waved his magic wand on the podium.

This time around will mark the debut of thirty-three-year-old Korean director Eun Sun Kim, who has taken over the leadership of the San Francisco Opera since 2021 and has performed with great success at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The director will be Marco Gandini, Zeffirelli's long-time assistant who experienced his creative process up close like no one else.

Marina Rebeka will play the part of Mimì in the first four performances, while Irina Lungu will play Musetta, then taking over the leading role in the last four, when young Italian soprano Mariam Battistelli will make her La Scala debut as Musetta.

Playing Rodolfo is tenor Freddie De Tommaso, winner of numerous international awards, who was already at La Scala a year ago for Adriana Lecouvreur.

Luca Micheletti, these days much applauded as Guy de Montfort in the Sicilian Vespers, plays Marcello; Alessio Arduini is Schaunard, Jongmin Park is Colline, and Andrea Concetti sings Alcindoro and Benoît. The link between the director and set designer and the Piermarini spans twenty-one productions of twenty titles, from L'italiana in Algeri with Giulietta Simionato directed by Carlo Maria Giulini in 1953 to the new Aida directed by Riccardo Chailly at the 2006-2007 season opening.

In between, masterpieces such as Il turco in Italia, starring Maria Callas in 1955. There have been  many memorable productions, two of which have never left the La Scala scene; one is the Aida from 1963, and the other is La bohème, which has returned again and again with conductors such as Georges Prêtre , Carlos Kleiber, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Gustavo Dudamel, and Evelino Pidò in 2017.

Now, after six years, the record-breaking La Bohème is here again; the opening night of March 4 is its two hundredth performance.

Seguici su