Opera Scotland

Bohème 2019Paisley Opera

Read more about the opera Bohème

In these tough times with cuts rather than culture in the news, it was a real pleasure to hail the arrival in Scotland of another young company.  If the choice of such a familiar opera is somewhat to be regretted, it provides a yardstick for performance standards. More positively, this evergreen work is always likely to attract an audience and to win over any present new to the art form.

In the event this performance of La Bohème proved a delight. Set in modern dress and with a new Scots translation by Lindsay Bramley, it referenced Paisley student experience.  

Presented in a modern building of the University of the West of Scotland, Acts 1 and IV were performed in the auditorium. Acts II and III moved to the atrium, when the audience members were able to walk around or spectate from the second floor. Acoustics were fine in the auditorium, but in the atrium, when the performance was in the round, some words almost inevitably were missed.

As the audience members walked out to the Atrium for Act II, the conceit was that we entered a Christmas Fair with market stalls – one seemed to be a bar at which singers drank. The band at this point had Santa hats on. Singers, two with hi-viz jackets and one garbed as policeman, mingled with audience members. Another of the singers was in a wheelchair. Kids were ever present.

At one point, lads and lasses came pouring down the stairs in a colourful parade being shepherded by Jemma Brown, their chorus master, and waving black and white balloons. St Mirren, it seems, had won 7-0! 

Throughout, the experienced principals sang and performed impressively as a team. As Rodolfo, William Branston had a lovely warm tenor; Monica Toll as Mimi sang and acted well in the central role. In fact, there was not a weak link, putting some other productions in the shade.  It was a strength of such a generally young cast that they looked the part of students.  The Bohemians all played their parts effectively, and the horseplay at the beginning of Act IV seemed better staged than it sometimes does.

Of the supporting roles, the Parpignol of veteran Ronnie Lamont particularly caught the eye with his reactions to the kids.

Alistair Digges conducted effectively the spirited band of eleven in the reduced orchestration.

It is important to acknowledge the support given to this welcome initiative by Renfrewshire Leisure and Renfrewshire Council, as well as from the large number of volunteers and the performers themselves.

Long may this venture thrive - we look forward to their next production!

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Performance Cast

Rodolfo a poet

William Branston

Marcello a painter

Douglas Nairne

Colline a philosopher

Piran Legg

Schaunard a musician

Wesley Biggs

Benoit the students' landlord

Paul Anwyl

Mimì a seamstress

Monica Toll

Parpignol a toy vendor

Ronnie Lamont

Musetta a grisette

Rachael Brimley

Alcindoro a wealthy follower of Musetta

Paul Anwyl

Performance DatesBohème 2019

Map List

University of West of Scotland, Paisley | Paisley

1 Feb, 19.00 3 Feb, 15.00 7 Feb, 19.00 9 Feb, 15.00

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