Opera Scotland

Bohème 1988Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Bohème

Elijah Moshinsky's staging of this perennial favourite had all the makings of a classic to be worked on and maintained or improved at every revival, rather like the Anthony Besch Tosca, which is still going strong after forty years (and Welsh National have a superb Joachim Herz staging of Butterfly which is a few years older than that).

That it didn't work out like that is one of those unfathomable mysteries that dog every opera company from time to time.  Every revival had a major problem, either of conducting, directing or casting - sometimes two at once.  In the end the production was retired long before its due date.  And the various attempts made since, by other directors and designers, have seemed horribly cack-handed by comparison.

This first run was hard to fault. Mauceri produced delicate, diaphanous sounds from the pit.  It did not sound like everyday Puccini, and some people tought it bloodless.   But it worked well and supported the voices beautifully, rather like Beecham's famous recording.

Jane Eaglen was a surprise as Mimi - not obvious casting, since she is tall, and even then was not slender.  But she sang and characterised the role beautifully, and Moshinsky, whenever he could, made tactful use of other people in front of her.  She worked frequently with the company in the years under Mauceri's direction.

Jorge Pita had a lovely voice and was a good actor, though perhaps not ideally tall.  The others fitted in well, and Geoffrey Dolton, in particular, made Schaunard a more than usually active spectator to the main drama.

And what then of Moshinsky's staging? Michael Yeargan provided black screens like camera shutters to reveal as much of the stage as required.  The garret for once looked a realistic size, with elderly umbrellas hanging below leaks in the roof in winter, all hidden away in the heat of summer.  The Café Momus slid in on trucks from each side.  All the changes were quick and the whole oozed atmosphere.  If anything it actually bettered the classic Covent Garden production by John Copley (designed by Julia Trevelyan Oman), that had been on the go since 1974 - but then that classic staging's predecessor, scrapped in 1969, was the original one inhabited by Melba and Caruso among others!

The stylishly simple black, white and silver programme cover introduced for the season was highly attractive, but the idea was not repeated or developed.


Scottish Opera's Season 1987/88

The 1987/88 season of Scottish Opera featured ten main stage productions. Six of these were new: AïdaLuluThe Pearl FishersCosì fan tutte La bohème and Candide. The four revivals were Seraglio, La vie ParisienneEugene Onegin (sung in Russian for the first time) and Death in Venice.

Performance Cast

Marcello a painter

Steven Page

Rodolfo a poet

Jorge Antonio Pita

Colline a philosopher

Jonathan Best

Schaunard a musician

Geoffrey Dolton

Benoit the students' landlord

William McCue

Mimì a seamstress

Jane Eaglen

Parpignol a toy vendor

Grant Richards

Musetta a grisette

Susan Burghardt

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

William McCue


David Morrison

Custom-house Sergeant

John Beazley

Performance DatesBohème 1988

Map List

Theatre Royal, Glasgow | Glasgow

10 May, 19.15 14 May, 14.15 25 May, 19.15 27 May, 19.15 1 Jun, 19.15 28 Jun, 19.15 30 Jun, 19.15 2 Jul, 19.15

Theatre Royal, Newcastle | Newcastle-upon-Tyne

8 Jun, 19.15 10 Jun, 19.15

Empire Theatre, Liverpool | Liverpool

14 Jun, 19.15 18 Jun, 19.15

Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

21 Jun, 19.15 25 Jun, 19.15

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