Michieletto's wackiest idea was to set the second act filled with cart-pushing Christmas Eve shoppers on what appears to be a Google map of Paris' Latin Quarter created by set designer Paolo Fantin. His best was to set the third act by a snow-filled highway off ramp with a food truck as sanitation workers went about their business and end-of-night partygoers walked by.
Rodolfo is a filmmaker whose garret has a high glass wall that allows an unseen person to write "Mimi" in huge letters with a finger on the condensation. Mimi wears a black leather jacket, has a blue streak in her hair and tattoos on her neck and the inside of her left forearm. Parpignol is an acrobat in a superhero suit.
Netrebko's plush soprano thrills, as does Beczala's ringing tenor, and Nino Machaidze (Musetta) and Massimo Cavalletti (Marcello) combine for a top-level ensemble. Even those not thrilled by staging will be entertained by the singing.
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