La bohème - Royal Opera House, 23 June 2012
The second of the two shows celebrating the 20th anniversary of Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu's first encounter was more musically accomplished than the first. And the curtains worked. But we were never allowed to forget why we were there. Like the first, the evening had the air of a football testimonial - two sides, singers and orchestra, battling it out for the greater glory of the stars.
Conductor Jacques Lacombe controlled tempo and dynamics however hard the wayward couple tried to wrest them away, but Roberto scored the winning goal with the most moving final scene I can recall in this production. Earlier he had problems; he dodged a high note, forgot some words, and over-projected. But his sense of style is unparalleled, and the artistry of those final tears transformed the evening from a routine showcase into a heart-grabbing experience.
Angela's Mimi was too self-regarding to be remotely sympathetic, but she was in excellent form vocally and more confident than she usually appears.
The rest of the cast, as befitted the occasion, blended competently and generously into the background.
And courtesy of Kyoko, here's a video of the curtain call: