La bohème review — Danielle de Niese is the stand-out in punchy Puccini


MONDAY 21 JUNE 2021- Geoff Brown

Royal Opera House

Café Momus on Christmas Eve is clearly suffering from a waiter shortage; fewer customers too, plus a shrunken crowd milling outside. Otherwise, there are fewer changes than you might expect in Dan Dooner’s Covid-conscious, socially distanced edition of Richard Jones’s 2017 production of Puccini’s masterpiece. The snow continues to drift from the heavens, and the bohemians’ Paris garret hasn’t got any warmer. More to the point for this story of sudden love, poverty and cruel death, the characters still intermingle, embrace, and, in the case of Musetta, bite. Meanwhile, down in the pit, an orchestra of 74 has been stripped down to 47, armed with Mario Parenti’s reduced orchestration. Yet despite much lighter forces, Puccini remains Puccini.

If you still emerge from Covent Garden’s


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