Barry Mora steps into the breach for La Bohème

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 9 October 2018

New Zealand Opera's new production of La bohème has opened in Wellington after a very successful Auckland season, with reviewers describing it as “unmissable".

Musetta (Amelia Berry) provokes her sugar daddy Alcindoro (Barry Mora) in La bohème

Musetta (Amelia Berry) provokes her sugar daddy Alcindoro (Barry Mora) in La bohème Photo: David Rowland

Wellington bass baritone Barry Mora surprised everyone, including himself, by taking on the twin roles of Benoît and Alcindoro when an accident upset the company’s original casting plan. Wellington baritone Richard Greager broke his leg just as rehearsals were about to begin last month. 

Mora is a familiar face here having played many lead roles over the years: he made his professional debut in New Zealand as Valentin in Faust in 1971.

He was the first recipient of the Inia Te Wiata Scholarship, and went on to have a career that took him to opera houses all over the globe, and was a member of Frankfurt City Opera for some years.

Barry spoke to Eva Radich about coming out of retirement for La Bohème.

 New Zealand Opera's La bohème

New Zealand Opera's La bohème Photo: David Rowland

New Zealanders dominate the production, with Wellingtonian Jacqueline Coats in the director’s chair in her first main stage production for New Zealand Opera.

The cast is led by internationally based New Zealand singers making their New Zealand Opera debuts with Auckland born soprano Marlena Devoe and former Wellington tenor Thomas Atkins as the central lovers Mimi and Rodolfo.

Tomas Atkins and Marlena Devoe play ill-fated lovers at the heart of La Bohème

Tomas Atkins and Marlena Devoe play ill-fated lovers at the heart of La Bohème Photo: David Rowland

Also back from overseas are soprano Amelia Berry to play Musetta and baritone Julien Van Mellaerts as Colline with young Australian singers Timothy Newton and Nicholas Lester completing the circle of young poverty stricken bohemians in Paris.

The cast is joined by the Freemasons New Zealand Opera Chorus and Orchestra Wellington conducted by Tobias Ringborg.

La bohème Act 1:L-R Nicholas Lester, Thomas Atkins, Barry Mora, Julien Van Mellaerts, Timothy Newton

La bohème Act 1:L-R Nicholas Lester, Thomas Atkins, Barry Mora, Julien Van Mellaerts, Timothy Newton Photo: David Rowland