Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Opera Preview: Puccini's 'La Bohme' Has It All

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Opera Preview: Puccini's 'La Bohme' Has It All

Article excerpt

Puccini's beloved "La Bohme" has everything you could want: a tuneful score full of familiar arias, sympathetic characters, contrasting love stories and a tear-compelling conclusion.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis' new production, which opens the season May 21, also has a cast as youthful as the roles they play.

"The cast is young, in a good way," says baritone Anthony Clark Evans, who plays Marcello. In some productions in larger opera houses, "You might have to suspend disbelief sometimes."

The story is one of the best-known in all opera: Four young "bohemians" Rodolfo, a poet; Marcello, a painter; Schaunard, a musician; and Colline, a philosopher live together in romantic poverty in a Parisian garret. On Christmas Eve, they decide to visit a nearby bistro; Rodolfo has writing to finish and stays behind. A knock on the door reveals their neighbor Mimi, a seamstress, whose candle has blown out. She needs a light, which Rodolfo provides.

They quickly fall in love, and go to find the others; at the market, Rodolfo buys Mimi a pink bonnet. They gather at Cafe Momus, where Marcello's former lover, Musetta, shows up with her elderly admirer, Alcindoro. She sings to Marcello, they fall into each others' arms, and Alcindoro ends up with the bill.

But Mimi suffers from tuberculosis; Rodolfo worries about her. Marcello and Musetta can't stop fighting. Mimi's story, at least, is finally resolved, with one of the most touching death scenes in all of opera.

This production is set around 1930, says stage director Ron Daniels. ("That's what my designer wanted to do.")

The production, like his 2013 double bill of "I Pagliacci" and "Il Tabarro," is "moving toward great simplicity, a truthfulness onstage. Let me put it this way: I saw this wonderful graffiti in Paris (from) the 1930s that said 'I love you,' and someone else had scribbled, 'But it's killing me.' In a way, the opera is about the nature of love and the nature of the ecstasies and the agonies of love, about the loss of innocence and having this extraordinary experience, which is life-changing."

Daniels says he was recently asked whether he thinks the four bohemians are talented. …

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