La bohème

Puccini’s La bohème

April 4, 2014 – 8:00 PM
April 6, 2014 – 2:30 PM
Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts

UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD Sung in Italian with English texts projected above the stage.

Starving artists in love in Paris— what can go wrong?

The tragic love story of Mimì and Rodolfo, set to Puccini’s immortal music, never loses its power to move audiences. Don’t miss this quintessential tale of love and loss set in Bohemian 19th-century France and fully captured by the lyrical sumptuousness of one of opera’s most melodic and beautiful scores.


La bohème Synopsis

Video Clips

ACT I. In their Latin Quarter garret, the near-destitute artist Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm on Christmas Eve by feeding the stove with pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. They are soon joined by their roommates—Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, who brings food, fuel, and funds he has collected from an eccentric student. While they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, comes to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation at his infidelity to his wife. As his friends depart to celebrate at the Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them later, remaining behind to try to write. There is another knock at the door; the visitor is a pretty neighbor, Mimì, whose candle has gone out on the drafty stairway. No sooner does she enter than the girl feels faint; after reviving her with a sip of wine, Rodolfo helps her to the door and relights her candle. Mimì realizes she lost her key when she fainted, and, as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the darkness, Rodolfo finds the key and slips it into his pocket. In the moonlight the poet takes the girl’s shivering hand, telling her his dreams (“Che gelida manina”). She then recounts her life alone in a lofty garret, embroidering flowers and waiting for the spring (“Mi chiamano Mimì”). Rodolfo’s friends are heard outside, urging him to join them; he calls back that he is not alone and will be along shortly. Expressing their joy in finding each other (“O soave fanciulla”), Mimì and Rodolfo embrace and slowly leave, arm in arm, for the café.

ACT II. Amid the shouts of street hawkers, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus and then introduces her to his friends; they all sit down and order supper. The toy vendor Parpignol passes by, besieged by eager children. Marcello’s former sweetheart, Musetta, makes a noisy entrance on the arm of the elderly but wealthy Alcindoro. The ensuing tumult reaches its peak when, trying to regain Marcello’s attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity (“Quando me’n vo’”). She complains that her shoe pinches, sending Alcindoro off to fetch a new pair. The moment he is gone, she falls into Marcello’s arms and tells the waiter to charge everything to Alcindoro. Soldiers march by the café, and as the bohemians fall in behind, Alcindoro rushes back with Musetta’s shoes.

ACT III. At dawn on the snowy outskirts of Paris, a customs official admits farm women to the city. Merrymakers are heard within a tavern. Soon Mimì wanders in, searching for the place where Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she tells him of her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy (“O buon Marcello, aiuto!”). She says she believes it is best that they part. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, wakes and comes outside. Mimì hides nearby, though Marcello thinks she has gone. The poet first tells Marcello that he wants to separate from his sweetheart, citing her fickleness; pressed for the real reason, he breaks down, saying that her coughing can only grow worse in the poverty they share. Overcome with tears, Mimì stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell (“Donde lieta uscì”) as Marcello runs back into the tavern hearing Musetta’s laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall past happiness, Musetta dashes out of the inn, quarreling with Marcello, who has caught her flirting (“Addio dolce svegliare”). The painter and his mistress part, hurling insults at each other, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to remain together until spring.

ACT IV. Now separated from their girlfriends, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness in their garret (“O Mimì, tu più non torni”). Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal; to lighten their spirits the four stage a dance, which turns into a mock duel. At the height of the hilarity Musetta bursts in to tell them that Mimì is outside, too weak to come upstairs. As Rodolfo runs to her aid, Musetta relates how Mimì begged to be taken to her lover to die. The poor girl is made as comfortable as possible, while Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings for medicine and Colline goes off to pawn his overcoat, which for so long has kept him warm (“Vecchia zimarra”). Left alone (“Sono andati?”), Mimì and Rodolfo wistfully recall their meeting and their first happy days, but she is seized with violent coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. As she peacefully drifts into unconsciousness, Rodolfo closes the curtain to soften the light. Schaunard discovers that Mimì is dead, and when Rodolfo at last realizes it, he throws himself despairingly on her body, repeatedly calling her name.

Director: Kristine McIntyre Conductor: Robert Lyall [sections] [section title=”Cast”]

Click each cast name to see their picture, bio, and more information!

[/section] [section title=”Rodolfo – Noah Stewart”]

Noah Stewart - boheme - rodolfo2Noah Stewart began studying classical music at The Harlem School of the Arts and was recommended by his mentor Leontyne Price to attend The Juilliard School, where he was awarded a full scholarship. His engagements include Rodolfo in La bohème (Michigan Opera Theater, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Carolina), Augustus Gloop in the European premiere of The Golden Ticket, The Prince in Adams’ A Flowering Tree (The Gulbankian Symphony in Lisbon and Paris, Cincinnati Opera), Luigi in Il tabarro (Castleton Music Festival), Cavaradossi in Tosca (Michigan Opera Theater), Narraboth in Salome (Arizona Opera), Ismaele in Nabucco (Michigan Opera Theater), Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas (The Yard Arts Festival), Tonio in the world premiere of Gioia’s I Tre Compagni (Encompass Opera), Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, José in La Tragédie de Carmen (Chicago Opera Theater), and José in Carmen (Opera Africa). Since joining The Metropolitan Opera roster in the fall of 2008 to cover Arturo in Lucia, Stewart’s roles also included Azael in L’enfant prodigue (Metro Chamber Orchestra), Manrico in Il trovatore (Festival Opera), Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana (The One World Symphony), and the premier of Hassan in Wier’s Achterbahn (Bregenzer Festspiel, Covent Garden).

[/section] [section title=”Mimi – Norah Amsellem”]

Norah Amsellem - boheme - Mimi3Soprano Norah Amsellem’s exceptional artistry and musicianship has been seen around the world with the most well-known orchestras and famous conductors. The role in which she first triumphed is Micaela in Carmen, which she has sung with Plácido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, Jonas Kaufmann, and Rolando Villazon. Other triumphs include Liu in Turandot (Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco, La Scala, Teatro San Carlo de Naples, San Carlo Felice, Florence, and on tour in Japan with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino), Gilda in Rigoletto (Metropolitan Opera, Munich, Orange, Seattle Opera, and Toulouse), Leila in Pearl Fishers (San Fransisco Opera, Washington Opera), Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette (Vienna Staastoper, Bordeaux Opera), Countess in Marriage of Figaro (Glyndebourne), and Norina in Don Pasquale and Adina in L’elisir d’amore (Nederland’s Opera with Bryn Terfel). Her upcoming performances include Mathilde in Guillaume Tell, Thaïs (title role), Elvira in Puritani, Mireille (title role), Marguerite in Faust, and Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello. The DVD of La traviata by BBC Opus Arte, recorded in Madrid in 2005, immortalized her presentation in a production of reference recompensed by the Gramophone Award.

[/section] [section title=”Marcello – Liam Bonner”]

Liam Bonner - Boheme - MarcelloPraised by Opera News for his “rich, versatile voice” and “beautiful instrument,” rising baritone Liam Bonner returns this season to Houston Grand Opera as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and will also return to Los Angeles Opera as the title role in Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd. Also this season, he debuts at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as Ned Keene in a concert version of Peter Grimes, both in St. Louis and Carnegie Hall. Bonner recently sang Lieutenant Audebert in the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night at Minnesota Opera, a role which he reprised at the Opera Company of Philadelphia in the 2012 – 2013 season. Additionally, he made his debut at the Wexford Festival in Chabrier’s Le roi malgré lui as Henri, a role he also sang at Bard Summerscape with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra. Future seasons will see Bonner at Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Minnesota Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Washington National Opera.

[/section] [section title=”Musetta – Sarah Jane McMahon”]

SHailed by The New York Times as “bright, active, and fastidiously musical,” and by Opera News as having “a golden sound,” Sarah Jane McMahon is recognized for her “beautiful vocal sophistication” and “sparkling stage presence.” Recently, Sarah Jane sang a Gala concert opposite Plácido Domingo and made her debut with The San Francisco Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, the Wiener Konzert Haus, Bremen’s Die Glocke, and the Santo Domingo Festival in The Dominican Republic. A frequent guest artist at New York City Opera, she performed Mabel in their new production of The Pirates of Penzance and was described by The New York Times as “the most polished and flexible singer in the cast” and “a deft comic actress.” She also received their coveted Kolozsvar Award for her performances as Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, and was lauded for her “silvery-voiced soprano” and “real star presence” in Purcell’s King Arthur.

[/section] [section title=”Colline – Alfred Walker”]

Alfred Walker - Boheme - CollineA graduate of Dillard University, Loyola University, and the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Program, bass-baritone and New Orleans native Alfred Walker is gaining rapid international acclaim for his commanding performances. He returns to the title role of Der fliegende Holländer at the Wagner Geneva Festival in 2013-14, Seattle Opera for the Four Villains (in Les contes d’Hoffmann), Minnesota Opera for Banquo (Macbeth), American Symphony Orchestra for Kunrad (Feuersnot), Grant Park Music Festival for Shostakovich’s The Execution of Stepan Ripin, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as Porgy in Porgy and Bess. His engagements in future seasons include further performances of the Four Villains (Les contes d’Hoffmann) with Den Norske Opera and the title role of Der fliegende Holländer with Théâtre de Caen and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg. Last season, he sang his first American performances of the title role of Der fliegende Holländer with Boston Lyric Opera and joins the roster of the Teatro alla Scala for its production of the same title. He returned to the Boston Symphony Orchestra to reprise Porgy in Porgy and Bess and to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem in addition to the Metropolitan Opera for its productions of Il trovatore and Don Giovanni. His recording credits include collaboration with Semyon Bychov and the WDR Sinfonie Orchester Köln for Orest in Elektra on the Hybrid label as well as performances on Placido Domingo’s CD of Verdi tenor arias for Deutsche Grammophon.

[/section] [section title=”Schaunard – Steven LaBrie”]

Schaunard – Steven LaBrie

[/section] [section title=”Benoit – Ivan Griffin”]

Ivan Griffin - Boheme - BenoitBass-baritone and New Orleans local Ivan Griffin’s engagements have included Lawyer Frazier in Michigan Opera Theatre’s Porgy and Bess, a role that he was invited to reprise during an extensive European tour. He has also appeared as Rev. Olin Blitch in Susannah with Buffalo Lyric Opera, Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro with Fayetteville Summer Opera, and Papageno in The Magic Flute with Western New York Opera Theater. He has premiered works written for his voice, including Songs of Winter and The Little Thieves of Bethlehem, both by composer Paul Stuart; and Requiem for the Innocent, an oratorio by composer Jorge Muñiz. Ivan has been featured in Guys and Dolls at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and Sophisticated Ladies at Detroit’s Music Hall. He is a member of OperaCréole and a soloist at Trinity Episcopal Church. He also serves on the faculties of Xavier University and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.

[/section] [section title=”Alcindoro – Kenneth Weber”]

American baritone Kenneth Weber sang his first Germont in La traviata for Shreveport Opera and Tonio in Pagliacci for Opera Las Vegas in 2008, as well as his first Masetto in Don Giovanni for New Orleans Opera that year, while adding the Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen to his repertoire for Chautauqua Opera. His other engagements included the title role in Sweeney Todd for Mobile Opera. Recently he sang Count di Luna in Il trovatore for Mobile Opera and Blitch in Susannah for Opera in the Ozarks. In 2005, Mr. Weber sang the role of Thomas Putnam in Mobile Opera’s The Crucible, returned to Shreveport Opera for Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, and Sweeney Todd, and debuted with the Chautauqua Opera. He has appeared with New Orleans Opera in Rigoletto, Madama Butterfly, Manon, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Carmen, Gianni Schicchi, Faust, Otello, Le nozze di Figaro, and The Barber of Seville.

[/section] [section title=”Sergeant – Beau Autin”]

Beau Autin - Boheme - SergeantSergeant – Beau Autin

[/section] [section title=”Customs Officer – Scott McDonough”]

Customs Officer – Scott McDonough

[/section] [section title=”Parpignol – Jesse Nolan”]

Jesse Nolan, a product of Philip Frohnmayer at Loyola University, has captivated audiences with his vibrant tenor voice and dynamic stage presence. He has performed in numerous venues around the New Orleans area including New Orleans Opera, Loyola Opera Theatre, UNO Opera Theatre, Genghis Khan Restaurant and Cafe´ Giovanni. In 1993, he was a fellowship recipient of Aspen Opera where he performed the role of the Preacher in Bernstein’s A Mass. His favorite roles have been Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) with UNO Opera Theatre and Mr. Snow (Carousel) with Loyola Opera Theatre. In previous summers, Jesse worked as an entertainment director for Glacier National Park where he produced and performed in nightly shows.

Currently, Mr. Nolan is a cantor for St. Rita Catholic Church. In addition to performing for weddings, and private parties, Jesse is a veteran special education teacher with St. James Parish Schools and in 2003 he was honored as the Teacher of the Year for the Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children. You can find Jesse singing with the New Orleans Opera and Opera on Tap.

[/section] [/sections]