La boheme

 

LA BOHÈME

BY GIACOMO PUCCINI

FEBRUARY 7 (7:30 PM) & 9 (2:00 PM), 2020 at the Valentine Theatre

 

Set in Paris in 1830, La bohème presents the tragic love story of Mimi and Rodolfo, a timeless tale that has inspired countless others. Giacomo Puccini paints an exquisite musical landscape of penniless bohemian friends’ commitment to survival and each other in pursuit of artistic truth. La bohème is one of the most-beloved and performed operas worldwide.

Starring Zach Borichevsky as Rodolfo and Jessica Dold as Mimi

 

Performed in Italian with English supertitles.

 

Paris, in the 1830s. 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 philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, who brings food, fuel, and funds he has collected from an eccentric nobleman. While they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, comes to collect the rent. After getting the older man drunk, the friends urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation at his infidelity to his wife. As the others depart to revel at the Café Momus, Rodolfo remains behind to finish an article, promising to join them later. There is another knock at the door—the visitor is Mimì, a pretty neighbor, whose candle has gone out in the stairwell. As she enters the room, she suddenly feels faint. Rodolfo gives her a sip of wine, then helps her to the door and relights her candle. Mimì realizes that she lost her key when she fainted, and as the two search for it, both candles go out. Rodolfo finds the key and slips it into his pocket. In the moonlight, he takes Mimì’s hand and tells her about his dreams. She recounts her life alone in a lofty garret, embroidering flowers and waiting for the spring. Rodolfo’s friends call from outside, telling him to join them. He responds that he is not alone and will be along shortly. Happy to have found each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave, arm in arm, for the café.

Amid the shouts of street hawkers near the Café Momus, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet and introduces her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. The toy vendor Parpignol passes by, besieged by 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 gain Marcello’s attention, she loudly sings the praises of her own popularity. Sending Alcindoro away to buy her a new pair of shoes, Musetta finally falls into Marcello’s arms. Soldiers march by the café, and as the bohemians fall in behind, the returning Alcindoro is presented with the check.

At dawn at the Barrière d’Enfer, a toll-gate on the edge of Paris, a customs official admits farm women to the city. Guests are heard drinking and singing within a tavern. Mimì arrives, searching for the place where Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter appears, she tells him of her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy. She says she believes it is best that they part. As Rodolfo emerges from the tavern, Mimì hides nearby. Rodolfo tells Marcello that he wants to separate from Mimì, blaming her flirtatiousness. Pressed for the real reason, he breaks down, saying that her illness can only grow worse in the poverty they share. Overcome with emotion, Mimì comes forward to say goodbye to her lover. Marcello runs back into the tavern upon hearing Musetta’s laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall past happiness, Marcello returns with Musetta, quarreling about her flirting with a customer. They hurl insults at each other and part, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to remain together until springtime.

Months later in the garret, Rodolfo and Marcello, now separated from their girlfriends, reflect on their loneliness. 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 with news that Mimì is outside, too weak to come upstairs. As Rodolfo runs to her aid, Musetta relates how Mimì begged to be taken to Rodolfo to die. She is made as comfortable as possible, while Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings for medicine and Colline goes off to pawn his overcoat. Left alone, Mimì and Rodolfo 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 Mimì slowly drifts into unconsciousness. Musetta prays for Mimì, but it is too late. The friends realize that she is dead, and Rodolfo collapses in despair. 

Metropolitan Opera

Zach Borichevsky, Rodolfo

Tenor Zach Borichevsky is known for his “beautiful timbre” and his creation of “intimate moments of beauty.” A series of significant débuts have established Mr. Borichevsky as one of the most exciting new vocal talents to emerge on the international stage, with celebrated performances such as Rodolfo in La bohème with Finnish National Opera, Romeo in Roméo et Juliette for Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile, and Alfredo in La traviata for the Glyndebourne Festival.  He has graced opera stages across the globe with recent performances as Edmondo in Manon Lescaut in his Metropolitan Opera début, Anatol in Vanessa for the Santa Fe Opera, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile, Rodolfo in La bohème with English National Opera, and Alfredo in La traviata with the Seattle Opera, to name a few.

Jessica Dold, Mimi

Soprano Jessica Dold returns to Toledo Opera after her company debut in The Magic Flute last season. Ms. Dold has performed throughout the country in roles such as Mimí (La bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), and First Lady (The Magic Flute). Ms. Dold has enjoyed debuts in recent years with Opera Grand Rapids, Michigan Opera Theater, Sarasota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Arbor Opera Theater, Mercury Opera Rochester, and Blue Lake Opera. She has also cultivated an illustrious concert repertoire including Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Mass in C, Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Creation, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Michigan Sinfonietta, Holland Symphony, Detroit Medical Orchestra, Case Western Reserve University Symphony, Community Choir of Detroit, and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Dold is a promising emerging artist, having recently taken part in several renowned young artist programs, including Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera, and AIMS in Graz, Austria.

Alicia Russell, Musetta

Soprano Alicia Russell's recent performances include Carmen (Frasquita), The Great Gatsby (Daisy Buchanan), Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira), Die Fledermaus (Rosalinda), and Die Zauberflöte (Pamina). This season she appears as the soprano soloist in Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra and as a guest artist with the Musicians Club of Women. She has also performed as the soprano soloist in Honneger’s King David, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and Missa in C Minor, and Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus rv. 807. In 2019, Ms. Russell received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions (Middle/East Tennessee) and was a semi-finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition. She is a previous winner of the 2018 Northwestern University Aria/ Concerto Competition and  the Ginger Meyer Scholarship in the 2018 Musicians Club of Women Competition. www.aliciarussellsoprano.com.

Brian Major, Marcello

Baritone Brian Major has been praised for his “velvet voice” and “commanding stage presence.” Recent performances include the title role Gianni Schicchi, El Dancaïro in Carmen, Speaker in The Magic Flute and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem.  He had notable performances of Amonasro in Aïda with Opera Columbus and Opera Theatre of the Rockies. Major’s performance of Kirke Mechem’s Songs of the Slave in Boston Symphony Hall was a triumph.  His performance as Escamillo in Carmen was praised for “embracing the love of the spotlight” and “never losing the strength of the vocal line” by Opera News. Some of his opera credits include Giorgio in Il Postino, the title role of Don Giovanni, Marcello in La bohème, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Germont in La traviata, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and George Milton in Of Mice and Men.  He holds degrees from Morehouse College, Boston University, and Michigan State University.

Peter Morgan, Colline

Praised for his “powerful voice” and “swagger onstage,” bass-baritone Peter Morgan has quickly developed a reputation as a well-rounded and dynamic performer, amassing a steadily increasing repertoire in performances across the nation. Highlights include Leporello (DonGiovanni), Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor). Mr. Morgan has also built up diverse credits in the world of new opera including the Midwest premiere of Dark Sisters by Nico Muhly, the American premiere of The Scorpion’s Sting by Dean Burry as well as the world premiere of Jason and the Argonauts by Gregory Spears, both with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His recent engagements include Manon Lescaut and Norma with Sarasota Opera, Le nozze di Figaro with Charlottesville Opera, as well as La traviata and Don Giovanni with St. Petersburg Opera. For more, follow on Instagram- @petermorganbassbaritone.

Keith Harris, Schaunard

Praised for the distinctive warmth of his voice, clear diction, and exceptional musicianship, American baritone Keith Harris is captivating audiences in his performances on both operatic and concert stages. This season, he reprises the role of Albert (Werther) for his début with The Israeli Opera and performs the role of Marcello (La Bohème) with Opera Tampa. He will also perform Carmina Burana with the Kirkland Choral Society and in concert with the Bel Canto Festival. Highlights of his North American engagements include productions of The Merry Widow, Faust, Werther, and Lulu with The Metropolitan Opera; the role of Valentin (Faust) with Toledo Opera and Annapolis Opera; the creation of the role of Sir Plume in the world première of The Rape of the Lock at New York Opera Fest; Silvio (Pagliacci) with Opera Tampa; Albert (Werther) with Mobile Opera; and the roles of Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Dandini (La Cenerentola) with Bar Harbor Music Festival, where he subsequently returned for a Tea Concert and pops concert for their 50th Anniversary.

Donald Hartmann, Alcindoro/Benoit

Since the beginning of his professional operatic singing career in 1978 at the Stadttheater Regensburg, Donald Hartmann continues to be an active performer with regional and national opera companies. Having performed in over 150 operatic productions, in over 60 operas singing over 70 different roles, he is a commanding leading man and "one of the best character singers on any opera stage anywhere." Mr. Hartmann has sung in many Toledo Opera productions since his debut in 1994: Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Seviglia, Madame Butterfly, Mikado, La bohème, and Tosca, the production which reopened the Valentine Theatre in 1999. With a vast repertoire from works of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Rossini, Strauss, Bizet, Britten, and others, engagements have included appearances with Opéra de Montreal, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, Opera Carolina, Michigan Opera Theater, Nashville Opera,  Opera Delaware, North Carolina Opera, Arizona Opera, Florentine Opera, to name a few. A busy concert singer and recitalist, Mr. Hartmann is a Professor of Voice in the Department of Performance Studies of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

 

TBA, conductor

Jeffrey Buchman, director

Opera News calls director Jeffrey Buchman “a formidable talent” and South Florida Classical Review wrote, “Buchman is one of the finest and most versatile directors working in opera today.” Some recent productions include:  La bohème, Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto and Die Zauberflöte for Florida Grand Opera, Carmen for Atlanta Opera; Tosca for Opera Tampa, Le nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly for Opera Naples, Il barbiere di Siviglia for Baltimore Opera, La traviata, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte for the Academy of Vocal Arts and CarmenLa bohème and La traviata for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  Mr. Buchman is in as much demand for new opera as he is for fresh, compelling productions of the operatic classics.  In contemporary opera, he has recently created productions of As One (Laura Kaminsky) for Hawaii Opera Theatre and Opera Colorado, 27 (Ricky Ian Gordon) for Michigan Opera Theatre, No Exit (Andy Vores) for Florida Grand Opera, Ainadamar for the University of Miami Frost School of Music, and the world-premieres of TeslaIntelligent Systems, and Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman, all by Carson Kievman. Winner of the prestigious Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition and the National Society of Arts and Letters vocal competition, Mr. Buchman is on the faculty at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, the Brancaleoni International Music Festival (Italy), and La Musica Lirica (Italy). 

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