With a public starved of live in-person entertainment, it probably would have been enough for Scottish Opera to stage their comeback in a reasonably conventional manner. Any audience would likely have been happy to experience things moving towards what we previously took for granted as ‘normal’. Having successfully navigated through the safety and legislative obstacles, they could legitimately have said ‘job done’. So great credit is due to SO for their new outdoor staging of La bohème – not only have they created a viable and entertaining performance, but they’ve done so with wit and ingenuity in spades.
The action is mainly played out across three stages: two articulated lorry trailers and a square astroturfed platform which sits in the middle of the audience. This (safe and socially distanced) breaking of the barrier between performance and audience is particularly effective, given the paucity of personal interaction we’ve all become accustomed to lately.
Rhian Lois plays manipulative singer Musetta as sassy as you like, and, along with Francis Church’s aloof sucker Alcindoro, steals the show. Time-wise, coming in at an hour and a half, the story zips along at a fair pace, and before you can get inured to the charms of the concrete car park setting, it’s over.
At times the Glasgow wind smudged the sound, leaving me guessing at some of the lyrical add-ons, but that’s probably the only negative I can fathom from a fantastic evening’s entertainment.
The remaining performances of Scottish Opera’s La bohème will take place on 10th, 12th, and 13th September 2020.
Image Credit: James Glossop