Making one's debut in a leading role opposite Placido Domingo should be enough to daunt even the bravest of sopranos. But Angelique Burzynski, who entered the cast Wednesday for the final performance of "La Boheme" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, seemed to suffer no lack of assurance.
As things turned out for the young Pasadenan, the famous tenor proved a considerable asset; he offered his Mimi more than a gallant arm, eagerly hovering at every turn and reinforcing her ingratiating passivity.
That advantage put the spotlight on Burzynski's voice, which is ideally suited to this Puccini heroine. It boasts the amplitude for ardent, soaring climaxes as well as the requisite sweetness. One cannot undervalue such fresh, gleaming tone.
But a truly affecting Mimi also must be a reactive force on stage. Here Burzynski's inexperience--or lack of theatrical instinct--let her down. Standing unseen by Rodolfo, who confesses to Marcello his anguish over her terminal illness, this Mimi might as well be listening to lectures on constitutional law, so untouched is she. And to portray generalized vulnerability, she merely doubles over, as with a stomach cramp.
Nor did this Mimi know how to render artful pathos in such a key phrase as "senza rancor" or the final words on her deathbed