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La Boheme and The Siege Of Calais - The Lyceum Theatre

Published by: Paul Tyree on 3rd Apr 2015 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

English Touring Opera 

La Boheme and The Siege of Calais

la boheme

(Image by Richard Hubert Smith) 

English Touring Opera brings these two operas to Sheffield’s Lyceum theatre on successive nights and both in their own ways do much to serve the reputation of opera around the country.

La Boheme was by far the most successful for them financially as the Lyceum appeared jammed to the rafters with patrons, whilst sadly The Siege of Calais appeared half empty. Being a much less well known piece perhaps this was always going to be the case although I for one found The Siege of Calais much more satisfying artistically.

In La Boheme the story of Rodolfo and Mimi whilst tragic and very moving has undoubted issues. The structure of the opera is incredibly episodic and leaves the audience with a lot of blanks to fill in for themselves. Whilst I enjoyed the piece my companion for the evening was willing Mimi to die as quickly as possible so that we could leave the auditorium. Also the positioning of the subtitle screens was such that you would continually have to look away from the action to read and then back again. This almost tennis like turning of the head became incredibly frustrating throughout the evening. Certainly last year when ETO performed the screens were nearer the stage and so you could see both at once.

The story of The Siege of Calais, the plot of which is inherent in the title felt far more satisfying as a piece of storytelling. The story of a city under siege where good men have to sacrifice themselves in order to save their home felt just as tragic as La Boheme but far more fulfilling and memorable.

siege

(Photo by Bill Knight)

As always it has to be said that both pieces were sung by all concerned fantastically well. The orchestra were fantastic and the staging of each opera whilst simple was very effective and served the pieces well. In summary,  these are two operas that remind us of how powerful this art form can be. They are both incredibly accessible and, minor issues aside, I would urge anyone to give them a try. 

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Contact number: Telephone: 020 7833 2555

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