If there is one bona fide maxim in mankind’s existence it is this: Love never goes out of style. That may be especially true today when it appears that everything old is new again. But long before Broadway gave us Rent, there was La Bohème.
Beginning this evening at the Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric, The Lyric Opera of Baltimore will be staging two performances of Puccini’s poignant, La Bohème. Directed by Bernard Uzan, this production of the melodic classic features the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Steven Wright.
The story, set in Paris’s Latin Quarter in the 1840’s, is about a group of young artists – bohemians – who struggle to make ends meet in icy cold garrets. But passions run hot because it seems like everyone is in and out of love.
Passion and poetry meld seamlessly in the music by Giacomo Puccini, which is set to a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, and is based somewhat loosely on “La vie de Bohème” by Henri Murger. The opera, in four acts, had it’s world premiere in Turin in 1896 and was conducted that night by a youthful Arturo Toscanini. Timeless in its themes and allure, La Bohème has become one of the world’s most frequently staged operas. A lavish feature film version was released in 2008.
Admittedly, for many, opera remains a mystery or worse, simply fodder for cereal commercials or Warner Brothers cartoons.
But for those who embrace the art, the rewards are tremendous. Several fans told the Baltimore Post-Examiner they are looking forward to seeing this production of La Bohème, with one opera goer saying his favorite piece is Musetta’s flirtations aria, “Quando men vo” and another saying her favorite moment is the Act III Quartet.
Coming on the heels of Halloween, the Lyric Opera production of La Bohème is a welcome holiday treat. It’s a perfect first time experience for those who have never been to an opera, while for those who have seen it many times, it always offers something new.
Sung in Italian with English surtitles, La Bohème brings Russian stars Anna Samuil as the frail but manipulative Mimi, and Georgy Vasiliev as the poet Rodolfo to Baltimore for the very first time. Homegrown talents Colleen Daly, as the saucy vixen Musetta and Timothy Mix as the painter Marcello, are also both making their Lyric Opera debuts. Baritone Eric Greene and bass-baritones Christopher Job and Michael Ventura also appear, respectively as Schaunard, Colline and Benoit/Alcindoro.
Show times are tonight, November 2nd at 7:30 and Sunday November 4th at 3:00 p.m. Tickets and parking information may be found here.
La Bohème is the first production in this year’s Lyric Grand Opera season. It will be followed by Bravissimo Bel Canto, an evening of operatic favorites, and conclude with Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi. Later this month, the Lyric will showcase a new production by the Peabody Opera Theatre of the Mozart-Da Ponte masterpiece, Don Giovani. Conservatory faculty member Roger Brunyate will direct the memorable Mozart classic. The Peabody Symphony Orchestra will be led by guest conductor Leonardo Vordoni. Tickets and information about Don Giovani may be found here:
Anthony C. Hayes is an actor, author, raconteur, rapscallion and bon vivant. A one-time newsboy for the Evening Sun and professional presence at the Washington Herald, Tony’s poetry, photography, humor, and prose have also been featured in Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!, Destination Maryland, Magic Octopus Magazine, Los Angeles Post-Examiner, Voice of Baltimore, SmartCEO, Alvarez Fiction, and Tales of Blood and Roses. If you notice that his work has been purloined, please let him know. As the Good Book says, “Thou shalt not steal.”