Franco Zeffirelli’s near 40-year-old production of Puccini’s La Bohèmehas long been a vehicle for debuting artists at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Some of the greatest sopranos have donned Mimì’s blue shawl, ready to sing of spring’s arrival and leave even the most hardened of opera-goers misty-eyed – recall 80s divas Renata Scotto, Ileana Cotrubas and Teresa Stratas, or, more recently, Anna Netrebko, Kristine Opolais and Sonya Yoncheva. Following in their vaunted footsteps in what was her Met debut, Nicole Car’s turn as Puccini’s seamstress yesterday evening confirms what Australian audiences already know – that this soprano’s star is very much on the ascendant.

Nicole Car, La Boheme Nicole Car. Photo © Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Although she appeared opposite the dynamic, much loved Rodolfo of Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, Car’s Mimì was singled out for special praise. The New York Times wrote that she “brought fine-grained tone and nuanced acting to the role of Mimì. There was a light, linear quality to her singing in the first act that opened up to a richer palette as renunciation and terminal illness darkened her character’s life. Her final scene, with Mimì on her...