It’s hard to go terribly wrong with La Bohème. And to their credit, the Washington National Opera did not. They had two casts, but I checked a friend of mine who sings in the WNO (mostly small roles and the chorus) and he assured me that it was a case of an ‘A’ cast and ‘B’ cast. And certainly, the folks I saw were pretty good. No one stood out in massive way (the way Abdrazakov did in Don Giovanni a few years ago), but everyone excellent. And while one thinks of a couple of the arias, really, La Bohème is an ensemble drama, so that’s just fine.
And yes, I cried. A moment, when Mimi is lying in bed and Rodolfo and all her friends are about – it was actually a moment of silence. And that was when I lost it. All the music building up this incredible sadness and regret and when it pauses, the floodgates open. The magic of Puccini, to take such a melodramatic plot, which is, on its own, too nonsensical to cause tears, and build this incredibly romantic, longing music around it.