Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Sung in Italian with projected English translation.
Puccini’s poetic masterpiece La Bohème, is reimagined against the electrifying backdrop of the 1968 Paris student revolution. Inspired by the films of the French New Wave, this theatrically and musically vivid new production transports one of the world’s greatest love stories to a mythological Paris, fueled by sexual liberation, intense passion, and burning idealism.
|FRI Oct 2, 2015||8:00 pm|
|SUN Oct 4, 2015||3:00 pm|
|WED Oct 7, 2015||7:30 pm|
|FRI Oct 9, 2015||7:30 pm|
|SUN Oct 11, 2015||3:00 pm|
Citi Performing Arts CenterSM Shubert Theatre
Performed in four acts with one intermission after Act II. Performance running time approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Conductor David Angus
Stage Director Rosetta Cucchi*
Set Designer John Conklin
Costume Designer Nancy Leary
Lighting Designer D.M. Wood*
Projection And Sound Designer Seághan Mckay
Wig And Makeup Designer Jason Allen
Supertitle Adaptation John Conklin & Allison Voth
Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Cast, in order of vocal appearance
Jonathan Beyer as Marcello
Jesus Garcia* as Rodolfo
Brandon Cedel* as Colline
Andrew Garland as Schaunard
James Maddalena as Benoit
Kelly Kaduce as Mimì
Omar Najmi† as the vendor
Brad Raymond† as Parpignol
Mira Donahue as the child
James Maddalena as Alcindoro
Emily Birsan* as Musetta
Ron Williams and Vincent Turregano*† as the two students
* Boston Lyric Opera Debut
† Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist
“Bohemia, bounded on the North by need, on the South by poverty, on the East by illusion and on the West by the hospital.”
Henri Murger (1849)
Paris 1968—a city torn by violent student uprisings; a ruthless and brutal police reaction; demonstrations, strikes, riots, barricades in the street; tear gas and Molotov cocktails. Idealism…rebellion…repression…violence…civil chaos.
Four young men share a garret room—Rodolfo (a poet and filmmaker); Marcello (a painter); Colline (a philosopher); and Schaunard (a musician). Into their somewhat untidy lives comes Mimì. She and Rodolfo meet almost accidentally and fall quickly in love. As they gather at the Momus—a student hangout and revolutionary club—Musetta, Marcello’s old girlfriend, turns up and succeeds to get the ostensibly unwilling (but totally enthralled) Marcello back.
The two love affairs go on. Musetta and Marcello exist in a seemingly unending state of volatile, emotional chaos. Mimì decides she must leave Rodolfo because of his jealousy. Rodolfo tells Marcello that Mimì is a flirt, but confesses that the real reason he must break off the affair is that she is dying. He has no money to care for her and, as he says, “Love is not enough.” She overhears and bids him a tearful farewell, but the two lovers are drawn back together and agree they cannot part at least until the spring.
Three months later, both couples have separated, and the four bohemians have returned to their bachelor digs. Musetta arrives with Mimì, whom she has found desperately ill, wandering in the street, and who begged to be taken to Rodolfo.
JESUS GARCIA Tenor
An internationally acclaimed tenor, Jesus Garcia specializes in the romantic roles of the Italian and French repertoire. His performance in La Bohème marks his debut with BLO. This past season marked his return to opera after a three-year hiatus, taken to write and record his first song-cycle “Manifest Destiny.” His previous performances include Fenton in Falstaff at Houston Grand Opera and Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutte at the Berlin Staatsoper. His future engagements include Alfredo at the Savonlinna Festival and the Badisches Staatstheatre, and Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de perles at NRO Netherlands. Mr. Garcia is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2003 Tony Award Honor for his work as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrmann’s production of Puccini’s La Bohème on Broadway.
KELLY KADUCE Soprano
Kelly Kaduce returns to Boston Lyric Opera, after appearing this summer as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly at the Minnesota Orchestra. Ms. Kaduce’s warm voice, stunning beauty, and superb acting skills have garnered national acclaim throughout the years, including the top prize in the 1999 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Her past season’s engagements also included debuts with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Katya in The Passenger and with Canadian Opera Company as Cio-Cio San. She made her BLO debut in 2006 as the title role in Thais, and appeared as Cio-Cio San in BLO’s 2006 production of Madama Butterfly. This season, she will appear as the title role of Tosca at Houston Grand Opera, and create the role of Wendy in Moravec’s The Shining with Minnesota Opera.
JONATHAN BEYER Baritone
Jonathan Beyer has performed a wide variety of roles with opera houses around the world. His recent credits include Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at both Opera Philadelphia and Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Marcello in La Bohème at Dallas Opera House and Ping in Turandot at Cincinnati Opera. This season, he will appear in Rossini’s Figaro in a return to the Pittsburgh Opera, The Merry Widow at Chicago Lyric Opera, Don Pasquale at Naples Opera, and Die Fledermaus with Florentine Opera. He also appeared in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with BLO in 2012. Throughout his career, Mr. Beyer has received numerous awards for his performances, including National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition, and he was the Grand Prize winner at the 2011 George London Foundation.
BRANDON CEDEL Bass-baritone
Brandon Cedel, currently in his third year of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, makes his BLO company debut as Colline. His recent credits include performing both Masetto and Leporello in Don Giovanni at the Glyndebourne Festival, as well as Isacio in Riccardo Primo with Opera Theater of St. Louis. Upcoming this season, Mr. Cedel will perform as Theseus in a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Grand Théatre de Genève, as Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Pittsburg Opera, and as the Sergeant in Manon Lescaut at the Metropolitan Opera. He concludes his season in Germany as Masetto in Don Giovanni with Bayerische Staatsoper.
ANDREW GARLAND Baritone
Andrew Garland returns to BLO to reprise Schaunard, which he appeared as at Seattle Opera and Atlanta Opera, as well as with BLO in 2007. Additional BLO appearances include Rusalka and Les contes d’Hoff mann (2008), Carmen (2009), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2011), and The Magic Flute (2013). His recent credits also include Dandini in La Cenerentola at Opera Philadelphia and Fort Worth Opera, Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos at Seattle Opera, and the title role in Philip Glass’s Galileo Galilei at Cincinnati Opera. Mr. Garland is widely recognized as a leader in recital work, with dozens of performances around the country including Carnegie Hall with Warren Jones. Following La Bohème, he will perform Fauré ’s Requiem at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, Carmina Burana with the National Chorale in New York City at Lincoln Center, and Shubert and The Beatles with the New York Festival of Song.
EMILY BIRSAN Soprano
Making her Boston Lyric Opera debut, Emily Birsan was most recently heard on the main stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Italian Singer in Capriccio, Servilia in the critically acclaimed Sir David McVicar production La Clemenza di Tito, and the 1st Flower Maiden in a new production of Wagner’s Parsifal. In August 2015, Ms. Birsan sang Ann Trulove in The Rake’s Progress with Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival. Additional recent credits include Leïla in The Pearl Fishers with Florida Grand Opera. Ms. Birsan can be heard on the Chandos recording of The Saga of St. Olaf with Sir Andrew Davis and the Bergen Philharmonic in Bergen, Norway.
JAMES MADDALENA Bass
Renowned baritone James Maddalena commands a large and varied repertoire, ranging from Monteverdi to contemporary opera. He first gained international recognition for his notable portrayal of the title role in the world premier of John Adams’ Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars with Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Maddalena has appeared with many leading opera companies, including New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Frankfurt Opera, and the Glyndebourne Festival. He made his BLO debut in 2000 with Madama Butterfly and has since appeared in numerous productions with the Company, including La Rondine, Cosi fan Tutte and La Traviata. He is a frequent collaborator with director Peter Sellars as well as many contemporary composers, including John Harbison, Gunther Schuller, and Elliot Goldenthal. Mr. Maddalena has recorded for Decca/London, BMG, Classical Catalyst, Nonesuch, Teldec, Sony Classical, Harmonia Mudi, and EMI. He can be heard on the Grammy Award winning recording of Nixon in China (Nonesuch) and the Emmy Award-winning PBS telecast.
DAVID ANGUS Conductor
David Angus has just extended his contract for a third time as the Music Director of Boston Lyric Opera, where he conducts the majority of the productions each year and oversees all musical matters. He is also the Honorary Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, following several years as its Principal Conductor, when he played a major part in establishing it as Belgium’s most exciting and successful new orchestra. Previously he was the Music Director of Glimmerglass Opera in New York state. David Angus conducts concerts and opera throughout Europe, and broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3 and abroad in Austria, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Italy, and Belgium. Plans for this season, apart from his work at BLO, include choral music by Elgar and Macmillan with the Huddersfield Choral Society and the BBC Philharmonic, two CD recordings (with the London Philharmonic and with the orchestra of Opera North ) and concerts in the USA, the UK, Sweden and Italy.
ROSETTA CUCCHI Director
Making her US directorial debut, Rosetta Cucchi has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative Italian opera directors of her generation. Recent productions include La Traviata at Teatro Comunale di Modena and Opera di Tenerife, L’Arlesiana at Wexford Opera Festival, and L’elisir d’amore at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino . In 2009, she directed the Italian premiere of Sweeney Todd at Teatro Comunale in Bologna. Future directorial engagements include Salome at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, La Favorite at Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, and Werther at Teatro Comunale Bolongna with Juan Diego Florez in the title role. Ms. Cucchi began her career as a pianist, performing as an accompanist for internationallyknown singers and in major theatres, including La Scala in Milan, Italy, and winning numerous competitions in Italy and abroad. Since 2006, she has been the Artistic Director of the symphonic orchestra Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma, Italy.
JOHN CONKLIN Set Designer
John Conklin has designed sets on and off -Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and for opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Bastille Opera in Paris, the Royal Opera and the opera houses of Munich, Amsterdam, and Bologna, among others. Locally, his work has been seen in Boston Lyric Opera’s I Puritani (2014), The Magic Flute (2013), Madama Butterfly (2012), and Macbeth (2011), as well as at the American Repertory Theatre and Boston Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Conklin works to develop lecture series and community events for BLO that enrich the audience experience and strengthen the presence of opera in Boston’s arts community. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School and was a recipient of the 2011 NEA Opera Honors.
NANCY LEARY Costume Designer
Nancy Leary has had an award winning theatrical career that spans several decades. She has designed costumes for Opera Saratoga, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston, Chautauqua Opera, Mobile Opera, Juilliard Opera, Boston Musica Viva, Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory. Other design credits include Shakespeare Theatre New Jersey, Commonwealth Shakespeare Co., Weston Playhouse, Actor’s Shakespeare Project, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, ART Institute, Chamber Repertory Theatre, Boston Theatre Works and Knife Edge Productions in New York City. She is currently working on an exciting new opera, The Long Walk, for Utah Opera. She also teaches Design and Production at Boston University School of Theatre.
D.M. WOOD Lighting Designer
D.M. Wood is a freelance lighting designer for opera and theatre, whose work has appeared in productions worldwide. Her recent credits include Don Giovanni at the Bergen Nasjonale Opera, Norma at Gran Teatre Del Liceu in Barcelona, and Kansas City Choir Boy at Prototype Festival in New York City. Her upcoming designs can be seen in Mary Stuart at Seattle Opera. She also received the UK’s 2012 Knight of Illumination Opera Award for her design of Suor Angelica at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
SEÁGHAN MCKAY Projection and Sound Designer
Seághan McKay returns to BLO having previously designed projections for The Flying Dutchman. Recent highlights include Boston Ballet’s Swan Lake; The Boston Pops’ Gershwin Spectacular: Promenade; Educating Rita at Huntington Theatre Company; On The Town at Lyric Stage Company; A Disappearing Number at Underground Railway Theater; Big Fish, Carrie: the Musical, Next To Normal, Nine, Striking 12, and Jerry Springer: The Opera at SpeakEasy Stage Company; Memory House at Merrimack Repertory Theater; Sleeping Weazel’s 27 Tips for Banishing The Blues; Merrily We Roll Along and Rent at The Boston Conservatory; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 and Light Up The Sky at Emerson Stage; and Two Dance Stories: Stop All The Clocks and Beyond The Boundaries at Brandeis Theater Company.
Designer Jason Allen has been BLO’s Resident Wig and Makeup Designer since 2003. A fixture of the Boston performing arts community, he also works with Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Ballet and many other organizations in Boston and throughout the country. La Bohème marks his 50th production with Boston Lyric Opera.
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ORCHESTRA
Sandra Kott, Concertmaster
Annie Rabbat, Principal
Kenneth Stalberg, Principal
Loewi Lin, Principal
Robert Lynam, Principal
Linda Toote, Principal
Nancy Dimock, Principal
Jan Halloran, Principal
Donald Bravo, Principal
Kevin Owen, Principal
Jesse Levine, Acting Principal
Robert Couture, Principal
Donald Rankin, Principal
Ina Zdorovetchi, Principal
Jeffrey Fischer, Principal
Richard Flanagan, Principal
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA CHORUS
Michelle Alexander, Chorusmaster
Kirsten Shetler, Director
In The Wings
Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera
Keep checking back for updated articles, in-depth content, and more!
In Puccini’s La Bohème, the poet Rodolfo meets the delightful seamstress Mimì on a freezing Christmas Eve in 1830, and it is love at first sight. In 2003, a young tenor, Jesus Garcia, met with a young soprano, Kelly Kaduce, to rehearse La Bohème. Paradoxically they haven’t ever sung the opera together until now, a dozen years later. Boston Lyric Opera has engaged the charismatic pair to appear in a new production, now playing at the Shubert Theatre through October 11.…more »
By Harlow Robinson
Today, an operatic world without Puccini’s La Bohème seems as unthinkable as a Christmas without The Nutcracker. The most often performed of the composer’s operas, and among the most popular works in the repertoire, it has attracted some of the greatest singers of all time (Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi, to name only two) to the juicy leading role of the impoverished, tubercular seamstress Mimì. La Bohème was one of the first operas to be recorded and has been staged in every way imaginable in all the world’s major houses.…more »
By John Conklin
In the two blazing months of the “Paris Spring of ’68,” the City of Lights became the City of Slogans. A universe of graffiti (sprayed, scrawled, and painted) of posters, placards, and manifestos, of pamphlets and radical newspapers…texts everywhere amidst the strikes, the demonstrations, the idealism, the passion, and the violence. Words appeared on crumbling medieval walls, on grandiosely pompous government buildings, on trees, on automobiles, on the pavement.…more »
Giacomo Puccini was the descendent of a long line of musicians and composers who served his native Lucca, a small city in Tuscany. His great-great grandfather, also named Giacomo, became the organist of the city cathedral in 1793, composing liturgical music as well as dramatic music for public celebrations. Giacomo passed his position down to his son …more »
As we gear up for our Season-opening new production of La Bohème, which will be set during the student revolution in Paris 1968, BLO’s dramaturg Magda Romanska put together this fascinating list of influential Bohème productions since its premiere. The opera has been reimagined countless times over the past 119 years—and BLO’s innovative staging by Rosetta Cucchi opens October 2.…more »
Listening recommendations by David Angus, BLO Music Director and Conductor, La Bohème
For a musically exciting performance, you can watch a full video of a performance from La Scala in 1979, directed by Zeffirelli, conducted by the thrilling Carlos Kleiber. It has the classic pairing of Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni, and Lucia Popp makes a lovely Musetta, but the production is very old-fashioned, realistic in the wrong way (i.e. very detailed and naturalistic, but without any real acting, just exaggerated gestures). It is live and rough at the edges, but gives a good idea of how the piece sounds in the theatre. You can also watch it free!
https://youtu.be/76o5q4zhjRkKleiber, Pavarotti, Freni, Popp (La Scala, Zeffirelli, 1979)
My own favorite CD recording, by quite a long way, is on EMI Classics (ASIN: B002N4DZ1M). Conducted by the wonderful American Thomas Schippers, it features a very young Freni and an amazingly musical and tasteful Nicolai Gedda, with the forces of the Rome Opera in 1964. There are several recordings by Schippers, so make sure you get the right one. This is a studio recording, so it is clean and clear, but is obviously based on live performances at the time, and so the pacing is exciting and theatrical, and the singing superlative.
For a wonderful, luxurious orchestral sound, there is the classic Karajan recording with Pavarotti and Freni (ASIN: B0000041TD), but a lot of it is half speed, and it has no relationship to the drama or the sound in a live theatre performance: the singers would die at these speeds! Sounds great, but it is a completely different piece—more like Wagner than anything else. To be avoided, if you want to know what La Bohème should sound like on stage.
Recommendations for further reading, watching, and exploring from John Conklin, BLO Artistic Advisor
As perhaps the most beloved of all operas, La Bohème, with its irresistible music (to almost everyone except the stoniest-hearted) and its immensely popular composer, has inevitably generated a great number of books. One of the best is:
Puccini: His Life and Works
By Julian Budden
Master Musicians Series
Oxford University Press, 2005
As a leading opera scholar and writer of the definitive study of Verdi’s operas (in three exhaustive and eminently readable volumes), Budden has produced, in just one rich and enjoyable volume, a book combining an astute and enlightening musical analysis intertwined with a colorful account of Puccini’s often eccentric, somewhat contentious, and at times rather erratic life.
BLO is setting its production of La Bohème against the vivid background of the student uprisings in Paris in 1968, an event which has generated its own flood of books…sociological interpretations, personal accounts, historical and cultural contexts, collections of the striking, and now famous, photographic images of the event. Among them is:
1968: The Year That Rocked the World
By Mark Kurlansky
Random House, 2005
In an broad study of that convulsive year, with its horrifying assassinations, the shocking chaos of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the quagmire of Vietnam and the Tet Offensive, the brutal put-down by the Russians in Prague, Kurlansky devotes a compelling chapter to those events in Paris that were part of the still-startling mosaic of that year of, as he phrases it,
“quaint innocence and shocking modernism.”
The culture of film was a crucial part of the events in Paris in 1968, and has also influenced the BLO production of Bohème. The production uses a famous quotation from Masculin Féminin (the Godard film from 1965), “The children of Marx and Coca-Cola,” as a defining presence. The movie (whose very name could almost be an eloquent alternate title for Bohème) is a typically Godardian mixture of satire and tragedy (also like Bohème). A restless, idealistic, would-be intellectual youth (played by the New Wave iconic actor Jean-Pierre Léaud—he of The 400 Blows) pursues an impossible love affair and struggles to find his place in a world teeming with revolutionary thought and action.
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Released by the Criterion Collection, 2005
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“One has to applaud Boston Lyric Opera for the boldness
of its new production” –The Boston Globe
“A Risky and rewarding update…