Few operas have attained more international status and popularity than "La Boheme" by Giacomo Puccini, first produced on February 1, 1896 at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, with Arturo Toscannini conducting. The tender and heartbreaking story of the love of the poor poet Rodolfo for the sweet sick seamstress Mimi has captured the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of listeners over the decades.
Opera Theater of Connecticut will be concentrating all its dramatic and exciting properties on Tuesday, August 5, Thursday, August 7 and Saturday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, August 10 at 6 p.m. to bring this glorious tale of romance to the stage of the air-conditioned Andrews MemorialTheater, 54 East Main Street, Clinton. The production is fully staged and sung in Italian with English supertitles, a full orchestra, chorus and children's chorus.
Christmas Eve in Paris in the 1840's should be celebrated with wine, women and song, but for the artist Marcello, a dramatic Maksim Ivanov, and the poet Rodolfo, a sensitive Joshua Kohl, starvation is the only thing under their tree, if they could even afford one. They burn pages of Rodolfo's latest book to keep from freezing. When all seems lost, their roommates Colline, a philosophizing Aaron Sorensen, and Schaunard, the clever musician Ryan Burns, arrive with a feast of food and funds to celebrate from an unexpected and eccentric commission, playing music for a parrot until it died. Even the appearance of their landlord Benoit, a greedy Laurentiu Rotaru, to collect the rent, doesn't defer them from their glee.
After getting Benoit drunk on wine, they all leave to party at the Cafe Momus, save for Rodolfo who lingers to pen a few words. A knock on the door presents him with a vision of loveliness, Mimi, a pretty neighbor Shannon Kessler Dooley, whose candle has burned out and needs a match. The pair fall instantly in love as they search for her key, which he has secretly pocketed, and soon they join his friends at the cafe to celebrate their sudden good fortune.
Poverty and illness are not good companions for young love and the pair suffer from both. While Marcello and his former girlfriend Musetta, a fiery Lisa Williamson, flirt and argue about her dalliance with the wealthy and boring Alcindoro, also played by Laurentiu Rotaru, Rodolfo and Mimi are traveling a rocky road in their relationship. He pretends to be jealous so she will leave him for a rich patron to care for her during her illness, knowing he has no means for medicine and doctors.
When Mimi realizes Rodolfo's ruse and that he truly adores her, they tearfully reunite but it is too late. Her illness has consumed her and she dies, leaving Rodolfo in despair.
Puccini never disappoints. His notes are lush and lyrical, as Rodolfo and Mimi proclaim their devotion, first tentatively, and then stirringly all the way to her tragic deathbed where Rodolfo weeps her name on his fevered lips. If the word "opera" represents a musical marriage of song, orchestra, drama, dance, design, costumes, sound and light, then Puccini's "La Boheme" is a masterwork that exemplifies them all with grandeur.
Under the leadership of General Director Kate Ford, Production Director Alan Mann and Music Director Kyle Swann, Opera Theater of Connecticut has assembled a sterling ensemble together to perform this spectacular production. Come early for a boxed supper prepared by Chip's Pub III and picnic on the theater lawn next to the lovely Indian River an hour before showtime. Dinners are $15 and must be reserved in advance. Come even a little earlier, an hour and a half before curtain, and let Artistic Director Alan Mann engage and enlighten you with his Opera Talk. Tickets are $5 and will make the opera much more enjoyable.
For tickets ($45 adults, $40 seniors, $35 for under 18) call Opera Theater of CT at 860-669-8999 or online at www.operatheaterofct.,org.
Let Opera Theater of CT bring you a sumptuous selection of song for your summer's entertainment. It's sure to be a highlight of your August.