Review: UK Opera’s La BohemeFiled under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Classical Music, Lexington Opera House, Music, Opera, Reviews, UK; Tagged as: Alfredo, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Fortnight Festival, Giacomo Puccini, Gregory Turay, La Bohème, La Traviata, Manuel Castillo, Mary-Hollis Hundley, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mitchell Hutchings, Nicholas Provenzale, Reginald Smith Jr., Rent, Richard Kagey, University of Kentucky Opera
Over the last decade, the University of Kentucky Opera program has been lucky to count Gregory Turay among its alums.
He’s the one who fulfilled the dream of winning at the national level of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, making it into the young artist program and embarking on an international career that we could sometimes tune in on TV or radio. And he occasionally came back for a recital or even a role, as he did in 2006 when appeared as Alfredo in a benefit performance of La Traviata.
UK and Lexington area opera fans are even luckier to have Turay as an artist-in-residence, leading a full UK Opera production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme as part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival in conjunction with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
The Richard Kagey sets and 1920s vibe will be familiar to local opera fans who saw this production in 2008, but the faces are different as many of that productions’ stars have moved on.
Clearly, with many of its artistic leaders involved in numerous activities related to the World Equestrian Games – including UK Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey heading up the opening and closing ceremonies – the program decided its best contribution to the cultural element of the Games was to revive a recent success.
And Boheme provides a nice showcase for several of the program’s most talented students, particularly Reginald Smith Jr. as Colline and Nicholas Provenzale as Schaunard, a really nice progression for him from Eisenstein in last spring’s production of Die Fledermaus. We’re also introduced to new UK doctoral candidate Mitchell Hutchings as Marcello, and he fits right in with the program that puts a heavy emphasis on acting in its operas.
Rent, the Broadway musical inspired by Boheme, really put the emphasis on this being a story about a circle of friends. The opera is and always will be more focused on the leading couple of Rodolfo and Mimi, but in their performances, you get the idea that this is a group dedicated to helping see each other through their poverty – albeit, as in most Boheme productions, a pretty good-looking version of poverty.
But this is about Rodolfo and Mimi, and with Turay as the leading man and Catherine Clarke Nardolillo opposite him, this is about as professional-feeling a production as UK Opera has offered up.
Turay would be beautifully cast in anyone’s Boheme as Rodolfo, a good-looking guy who leads with his heart. And with an easy command of the music, we get all of that in this performance. And while Narolillo, who was a terrific Musetta in 2008, is a doctoral candidate at UK, she has a long-professional resume and is evenly cast opposite Turay – even bringing a little Musetta sexiness to Mimi, which is usually a fairly demure role. She seduces the audience with an extremely well rounded lower register and a voice that easily takes flight in arias such as act Sì, mi chiamano Mimì.
Of course, though UK Opera is Lexington’s de facto opera company, it is still a student group and the students need the performance opportunities.
But ever so often, it is nice to put a professional like Turay on stage to show current students and Central Kentucky opera audiences what is possible.
Note: This production is double cast, and Friday (Oct. 1) and Sunday (Oct. 3) evening’s performances will be led by doctoral candidate Manuel Castillo as Rodolfo and undergraduate Mary-Hollis Hundley as Mimi. The opening night cast, reviewed here, will appear again Sunday afternoon. If you see the other cast, please comment and let us know what you thought.
4 Responses to “Review: UK Opera’s La Boheme”
Last night performance was outstanding. Not to take anything away from the other cast members, I’d like to note that the singer who played Musetta, was in a word “phenomenal”. The easy and facility of her singing was really a pleasure to hear. She has an effortless command of her instrument. If you could, please give her kudos for her performance. Thanks!
I’m in agreement with Rich’s comment… Thursday night’s Musetta was exceptional. Act 2 came alive in a way I’ve never seen before due mainly to her outstanding take on the character and extraordinary voice. My overall take on the production… EXCELLENT… the best I’ve seen from UK Opera Theatre. Congrats to all involved!
The Musetta from last night’s performance was Rachel Sterrenberg. The most impressive thing about Ms. Sterrenberg performance, in my opinion, is that last night was her first time on stage with the cast, this is including rehearsals. Ms. Sterrenberg was originally the cover for Musetta, but because of her impressive talent she earned a performance. However, due to time constraints and three different Musetta’s, Ms. Sterrenberg was not able to have a dress rehearsal with the cast. Therefore, her first time on stage was her performance and she absolutely owned it! Not to mention, she’s an undergraduate. I’m certain we will see great things from Ms. Sterrenberg in the near future.
Amanda K. October 3rd, 2010 at 1:54 pm
The performance was not as good as I have seen in the past from UK. The Friday night cast, while vocally talented, lacked emotion and feeling. I did not even cry at the end, and this is an opera that has always moved me to tears! The Mimi obviously had no idea what she was singing about. I saw 5 people leave from the first balcony that evening, muttering “Terrible” in British accents. I expected to enjoy the Thursday cast more, and that too just lacked a certain something. A good show, but overall lacked soul. And I agree with the above comments; the Musetta from the Thursday cast was fantastic. Brava, darling.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich