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Ready for their close-up

Michael Fabiano, Luca Tittoto, Mariusz Kwiecień and Florian Sempey. Photograph: Catherine Ashmore Giacomo Puccini
Covent Garden
Reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, 30 September One of the more challenging aspects of the relentless refinement of technology in recent years is the way high-definition television sets make watching older films almost unbearable. It’s hard to say what the change consists of, but most TVs have a way of flattening lower definition images so that you have to adjust your perceptual habits to see the film through the film, so to speak. It can be rather like that with veteran opera productions. Even the best ones acquire a kind of temporal dust which no singer or director can banish satisfactorily. With some, the need to retire comes quickly. With John Copley’s Covent Garden production of La Bohème it came only towards the end of its third decade. First produced in 1974, to designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, Copley’s Bohème went on to be the longe…

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