Mrs. Woodward Goes to the Opera

The Atlanta Opera has a great tradition – Mrs. Jerrie Woodward’s reviews of our Final Dress Rehearsals. Mrs. Woodward is the mother of one of our board members, Bob Woodward. For years, The Atlanta Opera staffers have come in to work to find her impressions of our newest productions in our inboxes. They are delightful, observant, and constant reminders that what we do touches many lives. She writes these reviews as “thank you letters” to her son. That alone, tugs at our heart strings.

As we open our 2010/2011 season with Puccini’s La bohème, let’s take a moment to reflect on what Mrs. Woodward has to say, and try to put our own impressions into words.

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Dear Bob,

When I leave a performance of Atlanta Opera, I’m eternally grateful for the Cobb Energy Center. What a difference it has made in the enjoyment of the Opera and the ease of my getting there and back. As I think back on how it was at the Civic Center, I utter a prayer of thanks. Beauty begets beauty, whatever the art.

Now, to tonight’s final rehearsal of La bohème that enchanted the fairly large audience in attendance. I imagine most everyone attending knew the sad story, but the director presented a cast that brought the story to life in a beautifully unique way. The four “good ole boys” exhibited true comradeship, sharing what little material things they had, as well as the frustration and pain of trying to find true love.

After beginning a bit timidly, Hymel’s Rodolfo soon won me over as the sensitive lover and soul mate of Mimì. His beautiful tenor filled the hall, and his personality made me fall in love with the poet, too. I love a guy who can empathize with a lonely and sickly maiden, as well as listen to her story of common poverty portrayed in poetic language – I guess that’s the poet in himself. A close rival for my affection was Marcello. In fact, the entire cast was excellent – all strong and commanding. I wish Mimì had let her hair down sooner, though.

The orchestra was very, very good – with a full, great tone. It was the best the orchestra has performed in many performances. The sets worked well in all scenes, whether the mood was up or down.

The scene at Café Momus was somewhat overcrowded, making it difficult to find which one was singing, and subsequently how the story was going. I think less would have been more.

The death scene really pulled my heart strings. Rodolfo was magnificent in his portrayal of heartbroken grief, Mimi looked more beautiful in death than life, and a real tear rose in response to this tragic ending. I do wish the audience could wait until the orchestra has ended the last note and let it settle in the heart before applauding.

It is a terrific beginning for the 2010-11 season. I truly hope Atlanta takes advantage of the excellent opportunity to experience live opera on its home turf. Why go anywhere else for an evening of pure dedication and delight?

Thanks for the tickets. All of us were in one accord of praise for the company of The Atlanta Opera.

Love, Mother