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Friday, October 2, 2009

La Bohème in the suburbs

We've had a heavy dose of science and politics on this blog these past days, now for some culture. Last Tuesday, September 29, the French-German public television network ARTE broadcast one of the most sublime performances I have ever seen: A production of Puccini's La Bohème set in a housing project in the suburbs of Bern, Switzerland. The project is clearly for middle class rather than poor people, but nevertheless the concept was terrific and the execution of it near perfect. You can watch it (with commentary in French and lots of interruptions for reactions from people in the projects, which are actually quite interesting) in two parts at the links given below from ARTE's Web site. Be sure to watch all the way to the end, because Mimi's death scene is so original and powerful that it will knock you out (at least it did me; oh, sorry for the spoiler, Mimi does die at the end!)

The photo above is of Maya Boog, who plays Mimi, and Saimir Pirgu, who plays Rodolfo. That's the housing project in the background, of course.

Part I at this link.

Part II at this link.

2 comments:

Anne Gilbert said...

La Boheme in a high rise? Interesting idea. And I did like that credits thing where Rodolfo and Mimi are singing that famous duet, as the high rise rises! Incidentally, my mother always said, that whenever she saw La Boheme, she always cried. It was the only time she ever did cry.

Michael Balter said...

I don't blame your mother for crying! And I am very excited, as I just scored two tickets to opening night (October 29) of Jonathan Miller's production of La Boheme at the Opera Bastille in Paris; Natale Dessay will be performing in her first ever Puccini opera, playing Musetta. Watch for the opening night review right here on Balter's Blog.