"La Bohème" is, if not the world's most popular opera, at least in the top three. If this fact mystifies you, Utah Opera's season-opening production may not convert you. But if you are one of the opera's many devotees, you'll revel in the beautiful singing and fabulous look of this updated staging, as the opening-night crowd did.
Soprano Laquita Mitchell and tenor Gerard Powers starred as Mimì and Rodolfo, the impoverished young couple at the center of this slice-of-life opera. They won over the crowd with their fresh-sounding singing and sensitive acting. The secondary leads, baritone Brian Leerhuber and soprano Celena Shafer as Marcello and Musetta, registered even more strongly (maybe a bit too strongly in the case of Shafer's over-the-top antics in the Café Momus scene).
Bass Derrick Parker played the philosopher Colline, whose farewell to his overcoat in the last act was as moving as any of the farewells in this show. Baritone Brent Reilly Turner, as the musician Schaunard, rounded out the quartet of bohemians. The four men conveyed a lively sense of camaraderie, especially in the carefree clowning in the last act. Bass Ryan Allen provided solid singing and comic relief in the dual roles of landlord Benoit and sugar daddy Alcindoro.