La Boheme

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Theatre Royal

MICHAEL DRAKE

> Norwich Theatre Royal

At the risk of making a perverse statement, this was a triumphant tragedy from which enjoyment was obtained from grief. Ulti-mately it may be “only theatre”, but David McVicar's acclaimed production first seen in 2000, also has a credibility which makes one feel part of it.

Sung in Italian it has often witty, often poetic English Sur-titles while Puccini's lovely tunes are given lively authority (and acoustic brilliance) by the Glyndebourne on Tour orchestra conducted by their new music director, Edward Gardner.

I was not too sure of the beaming Father Christmas on the backdrop - but on reflection there is joy among anguish in life and in the end this sad tale of young love and ideals could stand it.

And, too, some quite superb singing by all the principals - and I deliberately do not pick any out.

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Spectacular fun and action abounds in the café street scene at the beginning of Act Two, complete with fire-eater and “animals” on stilts.

There just isn't a weak moment in a production in which Michael Vale's sets make it appear that it all happened but yesterday. It deserves all plaudits.

t La Boheme is repeated on Saturday, November 11. Box office: 01603 630000.

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