La Jolie Fille de Perth is one of those operas that has beautiful music but also a fairly weak story. The story is one where not much really happens and in parts where there is more going on it feels convoluted. Also whereas Carmen is hugely compelling and filled with emotion and Pearl Fishers has moments like that, of the three La Jolie Fille de Perth is the least involving. The music as said though is great and distinctively Bizet. This production is interesting if you're unfamiliar with the opera and want to see a production(a different experience to hearing a recording), but while there are good merits to be had it did feel mediocre. The best thing about it other than the quality of the music is the performance of Inva Mula, her voice has warmth and clarity, she is very musical, she is a very compassionate actress who connects with every word she sings and her personal beauty makes it easy to believe why anybody would fall for her character. Charles Workman, while not as good an actor, is a good partner for her, there is definitely chemistry between them and his voice- if a tad too lyric for the role- is just as appealingly limpid and just as musically used. The orchestral playing has the right amount of zest and nuance with the most memorable parts of the score played solidly. The filming is good if a touch basic. However, the rest of the singing is unexceptional, with some strain and wooliness going on, while in the acting stakes only Mula really seems involved, everybody else while looking the part looks stiff with stock gestures. The conducting has electric moments but also some leaden ones too, it's beautiful music that could have excited more here in this regard. The chorus sing competently but are static dramatically, the sound also makes them sound distant(that hampered a lot of the performers come to think of it). And on the visual side the production is not very good at all. The sets just look cold and stark complete with dim lighting and extra things on stage that added nothing, while the costumes are quite ugly with even more ridiculous(almost anachronistic in some cases) hair-styles. The story doesn't help very much, but the staging does nothing to allow us to engage with what's happening, so instead of being moved we are left with feeling bored or bewildered(even those who know the story will have difficulty deciphering what's happening in the production). All in all, Mula in particular brings some watchability but this was a rather mediocre production from personal perspective. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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