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A night at the opera 3: La Bohème

I don’t know when Opera on the Harbour began, but the first one I saw was La Traviata in 2012. I’ve waited for my favourite opera, La Bohème, to be performed, and this is the year! I have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather when I’ve gone, and this night was simply perfect.

Here’s the site as seen from the Botanic Gardens. Rather stark, isn’t it? It’s also where the open air cinema is held, although that infrastructure comes down and new goes up.

Pity about the plastic glasses, but I can understand why they’re necessary.

A chilled bubbly and a warm evening, what more is needed?

There are a few food and drink outlets on site.

The Garden Bar.

North Terrace.

A skeletal view of the stage.

From this angle, with nothing of Sydney visible, you could almost believe this is indeed a snowy street in Paris.

You’d almost think the Seine was beyond the railings.

The stage, Act 1. I often think what a marvellous job stage/set design would be.

Lights, action!

Rudolfo and Mimi met 10 minutes ago, but in true opera fashion they declare their undying love.

“Tell me you love me!” “I love you.”

Act 2 features a toy seller named Parpignol, who makes an impressive entry below a number of balloons. In this shot, against the dark city, you can’t see the crane from which he is suspended.

“Here is Parpignol! I want the horn, the toy horse!”

It’s Sydney, it’s a spectacle, it’s the harbour — there’s gonna be fireworks. I can hear them from my apartment at Bondi Beach at 8:25 each evening.

End of Act 2.

The opera was written in 1895, but this staging is set in the 1960s. I never am comfortable with these attempts to modernise opera. It sort of works — I get the rebellious student thing, the free and easy lifestyle — but the references to viscounts and muffs just don’t ring true in 1960.

I did not expect a burning car, but I’m very impressed at how they did it.

Act 4, and everything is coming to a close. Mimi is very ill, the group of friends is very poor, and Colline makes the ultimate sacrifice — he sells his beloved overcoat to buy medicine. One of my favourite passages.

“I bid you farewell, faithful old friend.”

Few heroines survive to the end of an opera, and Mimi is no exception.

“Mimì! Mimì! Mimì!”

An arty shot of spotlights and lamp to finish off.

You can also see my photos from previous Opera on the Harbour productions of Aida and Madame Butterfly.

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