“There's one standout voice”: outstanding reviews for Francesca Chiejina’s role debut as Mimì in La bohème with English Touring Opera

1 March 2022

On 26 February, English Touring Opera opened their revival of James Conway’s 2015 production of La bohème at Hackney Empire, conducted by Dionysis Grammenos. Following her stellar performances earlier this season as Melissa in Amadigi, Francesca Chiejina returns to the company in her debut as Mimì, a role she will also sing in June at Nevill Holt Opera. Her performance has been universally acclaimed by critics:

“There’s one standout voice, and that is Francesca Chiejina as Mimì. She has a warm, sumptuous tone and plenty of power up top…”
Richard Morrison, The Times
“Though boasting a sumptuous voice […] Francesca Chiejina is not the sort of soprano who craves being the centre of attention, making her Mimi ideally empathetic. One of the best recent alumnae of Covent Garden’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, she has the power to ride the orchestra where needed.”
John Allison, The Telegraph ****
“Vocally, Francesca Chiejina outshines all. Her Mìmì has a calm core that is heightened by the boisterous bantering and an inner radiance that can’t be dimmed by sickness or sadness. Sì, mi chiamano Mimì brings a lovely softness into the artists’ attic, and Chiejina and Botelho sing O soave fanciulla with persuasive feeling.”
Claire Seymour, The Stage ****
“Francesca Chiejina stood out as Mimì in a performance that displayed control over an ample instrument; we were treated to some fine pianissimi as Chiejina filed down her voice to the most delicate of threads and there was plenty of tonal variety to lend real character to her role.”
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack ****
“…Chiejina’s voice soars gorgeously; her pathos when disease takes hold is properly heart-rending.”
Michael Church, The i *****
“As Mimì, Francesca Chiejina displays her wide range: there is light and shade, power and subtlety and a strong sense of acting through the voice.”
Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard
“Francesca Chiejina, making her role debut as Mimi, combined a lovely warm, creamy vocal tone with a sense of reticence but also self-possession. In Act One, she allowed Luciano Botelho's Rodolfo to make the running, but it was a deliberate decision. Their concluding sequence in that act (his aria, her aria, the duet) was beautifully sung, yet also felt quite naturally believable, heightened conversation as it should be.”
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill ****1/2
“Mimi, whose tiny hand is certainly frozen in the bleak setting of the first act, is movingly sung by Francesca Chiejina, who gradually builds the role until by the end she has totally succeeded in making us feel involved with her fate and that of Rodolpho.”
John Groves, London Theatre One *****
Francesca Chiejina’s Mimì was the vocal highlight of the evening and a superlative performance in its own right. She was unerringly precise in intonation and showcased a remarkable range of colors across the voice – not least lower down, with some especially honeyed moments. Soft moments were especially impressive – there is little more exciting than really quiet singing – and could be both glassy and crystalline or tender and silken, depending on the moment. Her very final scene demonstrated an extraordinary level of sustained dynamic control, the volume ebbing and melting away ever so gradually over her final passages. She will surely go from strength-to-strength in this role.
Benjamin Poore, Opera Wire

La bohème runs until 3 June with performances across the country – read more about the production here.

Photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith

Group 9 Created with Sketch. View All

Next Article

Shape Created with Sketch.