Opéra de Monte-Carlo’s magnificent ‘La Bohème’ premieres in Muscat

Opéra de Monte-Carlo was founded in Monaco in 1879. (Supplied)
Updated 05 October 2019

Opéra de Monte-Carlo’s magnificent ‘La Bohème’ premieres in Muscat

  • Co-production brings historic company to the Gulf for its first performance of ‘La Boheme’ 
  • Puccini opera is set in Paris in 1946, with sets reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’

MUSCAT: The starving artists’ attic of “La Bohème” is worlds away from the dazzling palatial surroundings of the Royal Opera House Muscat, but the world premiere of its co-production with Opéra de Monte-Carlo Thursday night made for a magnificent marriage.

What makes this unique is that it is not simply a touring production, which is common to audiences in the Gulf’s new opera houses.

Opéra de Monte-Carlo, founded in Monaco in 1879, created the set in France and shipped it to Muscat by boat over the summer. Joined by an exceptional international cast, it adapted and rehearsed the production in Muscat with 170 of its members, including its orchestra and choir, extras and technicians, for the world premiere in Oman.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

October: LA BOHÈME OPERA BY GIACOMO PUCCINI 3 & 5, 7pm; LEO NUCCI WITH SOPRANO VALERIA SEPE 4, 7pm; Mughal-e-Azam 11 & 12, 7pm; OMANI WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION WITH SPECIAL GUEST SAMIRA SAID 17, 7pm; SAMIRA SAID 18, 7pm; L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES OPERA BY MAURICE RAVEL 25 & 26 , 4pm; and, THE STORY OF KAI AND GERDA 31, 7pm & Nov 2 , 4pm. _ Book online today: http://rohmuscat.org.om or through our official mobile app: Royal Opera House Muscat or through WhatsApp: 71111318 _________________________________________________ حفلات وعروض شهر أكتوبر: أوبرا البوهيمية لجاكومو بوتشيني في 3 و 5 أكتوبر الساعة 7 مساءً- لـــيو نوتشي مع السوبرانو فاليريا سيبي في 4 أكتوبر الساعة 7 مساءً - المغولي العظيم الإستعرا ض الهندي المذهل في 11 و 12 أكتوبر الساعة 7 مساءً - حفل يوم المرأة العُمانية مع ضيفة الشرف سميرة سعيد في 17 أكتوبر 7 مساءً – سميرة سعيد في 18 أكتوبر 7 مساءً – الطفل والسحر أوبرا لموريس رافيل في 25 و 26 أكتوبر 4 مساءً – حكاية كاي وغيردا 31 أكتوبر 7 مساءً و 2 نوفمبر 4 مساءً. _ احجزوا تذاكركم الآن على : http://rohmuscat.org.om أو عبر تطبيق دار الأوبرا السلطانية مسقط أو عبر تطبيق الواتساب : ٧١١١١٣١٨ _________________________________________________ #ROHM1920 #ROHM #Oman #Royaloperahousemuscat #دار_الاوبرا_السلطانية_مسقط

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“I have great admiration for this country, to be able to do it like that,” said Monaco-born stage director Jean-Louis Grinda in an interview before the show. “It’s a huge challenge to organize, and they achieve it very well. The theater is fantastic. The technical team is amazing, very professional.”

 

Italian tenor Giorgio Berrugi, who Placido Domingo has listed as one of his heirs, dominates in the role of Rodolfo, the writer who falls in love with the seamstress Mimi, performed by Russian soprano Irina Lungu. Together they were an impactful power couple,  as witnessed in the memorable duet “O soave fanciulla.”




Opéra de Monte-Carlo created the set in France and shipped it to Muscat by boat over the summer. (Supplied)

It would be hard to find a more attractive pairing for Musetta and Marcello than Ethiopian-born Italian soprano Mariam Battistelli and Spanish baritone Gabriel Bermudez, both from the Vienna State Opera ensemble, but they were more than just eye candy. Battistelli sizzled in the showstopper “Quando m’en vo,” otherwise known as Musetta’s Waltz.

While Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme” took place in the 19th century, Grinda set this version in Paris in 1946, just after the Second World War. The sets and costumes are reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge-inspired stage production of “La Bohème,” with clever tricks from the cinematic lighting: Clouds drift over the full moon, neon lights flash outside Cafe Momus and snow drifts gently down on a transparent screen. There is one overly long moment during a set change between acts that is masked by a film projected onto a screen of barren winter trees in Paris slowly blossoming as it becomes spring.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1 day till the first night of the opera! La Bohème is a beautiful love story set in a bitterly poor and Bohemian society in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The director, Jean-Louis Grinda promises an exciting new take on the much performed Puccini opera. 3rd & 5th Oct. 7pm. Don't miss the Pre performance talk at 6pm. . _ Book online today: http://rohmuscat.org.om or through our official mobile app: Royal Opera House Muscat or through WhatsApp: 71111318 _________________________________________________ يوم واحد يفصلنا عن العرض الاوبرالي الرائع "أوبرا البوهيمية" التي تحكي قصة الحب في مجتمع فقير وبوهيمي في الحي اللاتيني في مدينة باريس، سيقدم لنا المخرج جان لويسغريندا عمل متكامل و مذهل لأهم أعمال بوتشيني في 3 و 5 اكتوبر في الساعة 7 مساءً. تقام محاضرة ماقبل العرض بساعة لحاملي التذاكر فقط. احجزوا تذاكركم الآن على : http://rohmuscat.org.om أو عبر تطبيق دار الأوبرا السلطانية مسقط أو عبر تطبيق الواتساب : ٧١١١١٣١٨ _________________________________________________ #ROHM1920 #ROHM #Oman #Royaloperahousemuscat #دار_الأوبرا_السلطانية_مسقط

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With subtitles on individual screens in a panel before each seat, the opera is even more entrancing viewed from the front row. It is so close to the orchestra pit that you could reach out and touch the head of conductor Giuseppe Finzi, whose emotional expressions during the instrumental finale were a performance in their own right.

While Opéra de Monte-Carlo brought “Romeo et Juliette” to Oman three years ago, this was the first such arrangement for the company. And although Grinda is aware of Saudi Arabia’s renewed enthusiasm for the performing arts, he said there are currently no plans for a staging in the Kingdom. “We are not a big house,” he said. “But we always have something to do.”




Opéra de Monte-Carlo adapted and rehearsed the production in Muscat with 170 of its members. (Supplied)

Besides creating co-productions for operas from San Francisco to Tokyo, Grinda founded a baroque ensemble, Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco, that tours with the Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

There will be one more performance of “La Boheme” on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. It will return to Monaco in January 2020 to be performed in the historic Salle Garnier, the opera house in the Casino de Monte-Carlo. As Grinda pointed out: “All the most important opera singers in the world have sung inside there, so it’s a big honor to be there.” 

The Royal Opera House Muscat’s season includes performances by jazz pianist Chick Corea and a production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” based on Omani traditions. For more information, go to www.rohmuscat.org.om.


Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 18 min 46 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

  • “I was transported into a completely different world”: Jay Kay

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”