La Bohème opens the new Israel Opera season
Puccini’s classic opera kicks off the 2017-8 season of seven performances; La Bohème to run through December 8, while A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Benjamin Britten will be performed in January 2018 followed by Don Giovanni, Don Carlo, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Dido and Aeneas, and Carmen.
At this month’s premiere of La Bohème, the Israel Symphony Orchestra of Rishon LeZion—the Israel Opera’s resident orchestra—was conducted by guest conductor Francesco Cilluffo, who is returning to work with the Israel Opera after three previous experiences in recent years. Maestro Cilluffo will be alternating conducting duties during this run with Israeli conductor Karin Ben-Yosef.
La Bohème is also an opportunity for Israel Opera audiences to re-acquaint themselves with other guest artists who are returning after previously performing here, most notably tenor Alexei Dolgov in the lead male role of Rodolfo; tenor Arthur Espiritu, who alternates with Mr. Dolgio as Rodolfo; baritone Vittorio Vitelli in the role of Marcello; and baritone Ionut Pascu, in alternating roles of Schaunard and Marcello. Mr. Pascu sings frequently for the Israel Opera, twice last season alone, while bass Fabrizio Beggi, in the role of Colline, is currently making his Israel Opera debut.
Homegrown Israeli artists are among the current stars of La Bohème, including soprano Noa Danon in the lead female role of Mimi; soprano Hila Baggio in the role of Musetta; soprano Alla Vasilevitsky, who alternates with Ms. Danon as Mimi; and soprano Shiri Hershkovitz, who alternates with Ms. Baggio as Musetta; baritone Noah Briger, who alternates with Mr. Pascu as Schaunard; and tenor Guy Mannheim, who sings the two very different roles of Benoit and Alcindoro in the same evening. Although a baritone, Yair Polishook takes over these dual roles from Mr. Mannheim beginning December 6.
There are two choirs performing in this production: the Israel Opera Chorus, and the Young Efroni Choir, a children’s choir that appears in the final scene in Act II with the toy vendor Papignol. The parade and children’s procession that close the act are the most colorful and stirring moments of the evening.
The duet of Rodolfo and Mimi at the end of Act I is another highlight of the evening, although the earlier solo of Mimi was a bit overwhelmed by the orchestra’s loud playing. The voice of Ms. Baggio as the coquettish Musetta was a sustained pleasure throughout.
The next opera to be performed this season will be A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Benjamin Britten, in January 2018. Five additional operas are also scheduled for 2018: Don Giovanni, Don Carlo, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, Dido and Aeneas, and Carmen.