Opera Australia’s summer season staging of La Bohème is a multi-cultural affair. Beneath Chinese and English subtitles, two phenomenal Asian born opera stars perform Puccini’s famous arias with breathtaking artistry. Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang’s portrayal of the love-struck poet Rodolfo is mesmerising. His performance ranks him as one of the world’s best tenors today. He is that good. Fortunately, he is paired with an equally compelling soprano. South Korean born Karah Son brings strength and vulnerability to the role of Mimi, the lovely seamstress whose life is tragically cut short by tuberculosis.
Opera Australia’s decision to cast two Asian opera performers side by side at the peak of the tourist season was not mere coincidence. Chinese tourists make an important contribution to the local arts economy. From 2017 to 2018 alone, Tourism Australia reported that Chinese visitor numbers grew by 13% to 1.4 million tourists. They spent a staggering $10.9 billion. With a trip to the Sydney Opera House at the top of their bucket list, the decision to cast Kang Wang and Karah Son in La Bohème’s two leading roles made perfect sense. And lucky for opera-goers this season that they did.
Until Jan 20. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $40-$369+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneyoperahouse.com