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.


REVIEW: Hijack movie ‘7500’ opts for low-key suspense

Updated 09 July 2020

REVIEW: Hijack movie ‘7500’ opts for low-key suspense

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in tense, claustrophobic drama

AMMAN: After a string of huge movie roles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has taken a step back from Hollywood to focus on his family in recent years. Now, the 39-year-old is back on screen playing Tobias Ellis, the first officer on a commercial flight from Berlin to Paris. When hijackers attempt to take over the plane, Tobias winds up trapped in the cockpit while chaos unfolds just a few feet away. The film — named for the emergency code given to hijacked aircraft — is the feature debut of Patrick Vollrath, a German director with an Academy Award nomination (for the short “Everything Will Be Okay”) already to his name.

Vollrath limits the action to the cockpit of the plane, creating an almost unbearably claustrophobic atmosphere that’s only heightened by the contrasting mundanity of the opening scenes. As Tobias and his captain (played by German actor Carlo Kitzlinger) go through their checklists and procedures, the knowledge that something terrible is about to happen only ratchets up the tension, and when the situation does erupt, the brutality of the attack is shocking in the extreme.

Quite deliberately, “7500” lacks the spectacle of classic disaster movies, and though it’s fiction, the obvious similarities to events such as those aboard United Airlines Flight 93 lend the movie a sense of disconcerting resonance. Gordon-Levitt turns in a masterful performance, never once seeking to dominate the film, but capturing a sense of impotent fury and fear as his place of work — previously his comfort zone — is turned into a literal prison.

Vollrath never opts for histrionics, but lets the sparse script and his semi-improvisational style empower his lead actor to bring a raw and uncompromising edge to the performance. Vollrath sidesteps many of the usual clichés used in modern terrorist movies, making less of the reasons for the attack and instead exploring the toll exerted on both sides. There’s no music score, so the movie uses the noise of the aircraft, the attack, and the muffled sounds of the world beyond the cockpit to underline just how trapped Tobias becomes.

“7500” is not an easy film to watch, and it would be hard to describe it as ‘enjoyable,’ but it is an impressive demonstration of a director and an actor at the top of their respective games.