Having disparaged Wagner, I have to admit I am not that nuts about Puccini either.* But after an evening of Das Rheingold, I'd have to say that there is nothing more refreshing than an afternoon of La Bohème, particularly so in the company of the good folks of Turin at the Teatro Regio. It's a diverting venue in its own right, modern in so many ways that La Scala and La Fenice are not (indeed, I suspect you could pack both La Scala and La Fenice into Teatro Regio and still have seats left over. For they fielded an all-round heavyweight cast, leading off with Marcelo Álvarez as Rodolfo (although my friend Joe points out that he skipped the high Cs). Barbara Frittoli might seem just a bit just too poised and restrained to play the great consumptive Mimi (it was her debut role at Naples 18 years ago). But she has such a lovely voice you forgive her a lot. Gianandrea Noseda let his orchestra play a bit on the noisy side, although Puccini is noisy to begin with and things might have sounded better on the ground floor than it did up in the box were we sat. Still, it was a perfect example of Italian mellow: a cheerful audience digesting a good lunch or looking forward to a good dinner on a bright spring day and an old warhorse that it is almost impossible to get wrong.
Fn,: My attention is called to the fact that La Bohème had its premier here back in 1896, conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini. Different theatre, though. Allies bombed the old one in WWII.
*Well, is there anything you do like? Yes, quite a bit. Mozart, a lot of Verdi, a good bit of Handel, most Strauss. And Gianni Schicchi, and the second act of Tosca.