A new, self- described “scrappy young company” called Opera Manhattan put on a triple-cast “La Boheme”

A new, self- described “scrappy young company” called Opera Manhattan put on a triple-cast “La Boheme”

with a contemporary slant in one of Off-Off-Broadway’s black box Roy Arias Studios. Heard November 20, it was an affecting performance due to producer Elspeth Davis’s ingenious use of a tiny space and a game young cast. The look was “bohemian” as in East Village hipster, but Davis wisely avoided the current clich√© of having an impoverished Rodolfo (Edgar Jaramillo) on a laptop; only the charmingly grasping Musetta of Kristina Semos could afford a cell phone. Schaunard (Robert Maril) and Colline (company co-founder Bryce Smith) were played as an openly affectionate gay couple, which made perfect sense in this context. Somehow, despite their penury, these handsome guys did not lack for access to good haircutters and product.

Everyone had something to offer, but the finest work came from Vaughn Lindquist, a robust-voiced yet nuanced Marcello ready for larger companies. Anna Noggle, also singing very creditably, offered an extremely detailed and moving Mimi; her big moments evoked tears. The score, under music director Lloyd Arriola (piano, prompter) and Spencer Blank (keyboard), did indeed emerge scrappy but spirited, and – unlike other mini-“Boheme” productions I’ve seen -the team shirked nothing; the chorus took enthusiastic part in the performance.

Next up for Opera Manhattan: Humperdinck’s wayward siblings, then Floyd’s “Susannah.”

David Shengold (shengold@yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.





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