Review: La Boheme, Kings Theatre, Southsea

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At the final curtain, the pooch that won its part at open auditions wagged its tail with delight – and most of the audience seemed to do likewise.

All might have gone horribly wrong near the end of Puccini’s opera, when the bed on which the heroine was to die suffered a partial collapse, but the cast recruited from eastern Europe by producer and director Ellen Kent performed running repairs without missing a beat.

The subtlety came where most needed, in the performance of Korean soprano Elena Dee as the ill-fated Mimi. She floated the big moments with certainty and expressive ease, with a sure sense of the character’s vulnerability.

Ruslan Zinevych as her lover, Rodolfo, was stronger on fervour than tenderness, Olga Perrier swaggered entertainingly as Musetta, and the orchestra from Moldova was passionately earthy under Nicolae Dohotaru’s direction.

Ellen Kent returns to the Kings with Puccini’s Madam Butterfly on October 4 and Verdi’s La Traviata next February 7.